Why Is China Setting Up a Military Base in Africa?

China is setting up its first overseas base in the Horn of Africa, continuing to assert itself as a global military power.

Xinhua, China's state news site, said its troops, who will be deployed in Djibouti, on Africa's north eastern tip, will carry out "naval exercises...peacekeeping and humanitarian missions."

Since Djibouti borders the Gulf of Aden, where piracy is rampant, the base will also be used for "jointly maintaining security of international strategic seaways," Xinhua said.

However, the new base in Djibouti is a cause of concern for India as China builds on its military alliances with countries that encircle India, notably Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) salute from a ship sailing off from a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, July 11, 2017. Picture taken July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

In a statement Tuesday morning, Shen Jinlong, commander of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy said the establishment of a Chinese base in Djibouti was a decision made by both parties after "friendly negotiations."

China did not specify how many troops or ships it would be sending to Djibouti nor when maneuvers would start. The PLA Daily presented a four-page spread on the move and said China would not be drawn into military expansionism or get into an arms race, the Japan Times reported.

"These promises will not change because of the construction of the overseas logistics base," the newspaper said.

China pledged $60 billion in Africa's development in 2015, developing multiple infrastructure projects down the east coast of the continent.