China deployed troops to its first overseas military base, sending ships loaded with soldiers to Djibouti in a bid to establish a beachhead in Africa.
An editorial in the state-run Global Times said the base “is not about seeking to control the world” but rather to support Chinese warships operating in the region in anti-piracy and humanitarian operations, CNN reported.
The US, France, Japan and Italy already have small military installations in the country. Located on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Djibouti borders troubled neighbors Somalia and Yemen and is positioned to be a gateway to the Suez Canal – one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
China is the largest investor in the Suez Canal region, and the route is part of its “Belt and Road” initiative. But the US and India see its military presence in the area as a threat – potentially forming part of a so-called “string of pearls” encircling India in the Indian Ocean.