China will build essential infrastructure to better protect its growing offshore interests, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday. Analysts said the comments suggested Beijing was planning more supply bases around the world after setting up its first naval supply depot in Djibouti. “We are willing to try to build some necessary infrastructure and support facilities in the regions of Chinese interests,” Wang said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress. “It is a pressing task for Chinese diplomacy as the massive scale of China’s interests overseas require effective protection by Beijing.” Asked about the Djibouti base, Wang said the move was “reasonable, logical and compatible with international norms”, adding that China would not take the old path of expansionism and not be engaged in any form of power politics. READ MORE: China starts work on Horn of Africa military base in Djibouti, defence ministry confirms Zhang Chun, an expert on Africa at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said that if China was planning more overseas bases, they would not be in the US mould. “China is trying to change many people’s traditional understanding of bases. Chinese overseas supply depots would be so different from US naval bases overseas because the Chinese facilities would have a win-win effect on the host countries,” Zhang said. But he said it was “very difficult” for Beijing to convince the world that its long-term overseas strategy was a departure from the US approach. “China needs more time and to make more of a contribution to Djibouti and other countries where China is planning overseas naval supply depots,” Zhang said. The defence ministry confirmed last month that work had begun on facilities in Djibouti. The base would focus on logistical tasks rather than projecting power, the ministry added. Wang said there were at least 30,000 Chinese businesses operating in other countries, and millions of Chinese working in all corners of the globe. Last year, China’s non-financial outbound direct investment reached US$118 billion and China’s overseas assets were valued in the billions of US dollars. READ MORE: Chinese navy helps hundreds of foreign nationals evacuate war-torn Yemen But the greater reach of Chinese companies has raised security issues. Chinese naval vessels had to evacuate 613 Chinese citizens and 279 foreigners from Yemen in April as security worsened in the country. All the Chinese nationals were shipped to Djibouti’s military base and flown back home. The Chinese navy has also taken part in international anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden since late 2008. Since November, Malaysia has allowed the Chinese navy to use its Kota Kinabalu port. One day after the Kota Kinabalu agreement, China also secured usage rights to land for state-owned China Overseas Port Holding Company at the port of Gwadar in Pakistan – situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz. Wang said China was also strengthening ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries under President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” initiatives. “China has never been an onlooker on the Middle East. We always support Arab countries’ independence and liberation,” Wang said, adding that China would neither seek political influence, nor enlist proxies in the region. Liu Zhongmin, an expert on the Middle East at Shanghai International Studies University, said Wang’s comments were an attempt to underscore that China would stick to its principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other countries even though China was going to play a role as a “middleman” to promote peace talks in the Middle East.