China has deployed troops to its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, a major step forward for the country's expansion of its military presence abroad.
Chinese sailors sailed out of a naval base in Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong on Tuesday and towards the Horn of Africa nation, according to a statement posted on the defence ministry's website.
The logistics base is the first of its kind for China, which will use it to support "naval escorts in Africa and southwest Asia, (UN) peacekeeping and for humanitarian support," the statement said.
It will also allow China to evacuate its nationals in a crisis, support anti-piracy activities off Somalia and work with other nations to "jointly defend the security of strategic passages."
The Chinese navy has long assisted in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, as well as UN peacekeeping efforts throughout Africa, but the base will be the country's first naval base abroad.
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