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China holds military drills at 1st overseas base in Djibouti

The Chinese military has for the first time staged exercises at the country’s first overseas base recently opened in Djibouti.

The South China Morning Post reported on Monday that the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy had held the military drills on Friday.

“This is the first time our soldiers stationed in Djibouti have left the camp to conduct combat training,” the newspaper quoted base commander Liang Yang as saying.

Yang said the drill would “help explore a new training model for the [Chinese] overseas garrison.”

Scores of Chinese officers participated in the shooting exercise, which took place at the country’s national gendarmerie training range.

China’s first overseas military facility was inaugurated on August 1 after being under construction for more than a year. China’s military presence in Djibouti will continue until 2026, with a contingent of up to 10,000 soldiers.

China says it will use the base to assist anti-piracy operations and United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions in Africa and West Asia. Beijing also says it will use the base to facilitate military cooperation and joint exercises.

Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, is strategically located in the entrance from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and lies at the gateway to the busy Suez Canal. It provides a port to neighboring landlocked Ethiopia.

The United States, France, Japan, and several other countries already have a military presence in Djibouti.

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