Xuelong (Snow Dragon) was set out around 5 p.m from the Western Australian port of Fremantle, said Chinese officials.
According to marine officials, the icebreaker will take about four days to arrive at the search area in the southern Indian Ocean. The search location is more than 1,000 nautical miles away from Fremantle, where Australian satellites spotted possible MH370 debris on Thursday.
First plane fails to spot debris
The first plane sent on Friday to search for possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, returned without any clues, Australian officials said.
Another three planes were still in the area and another was on the way to look for two large objects an Australian satellite detected floating off the southwest coast of Australia about halfway to the desolate islands of the Antarctic.
The area in the southern Indian Ocean is around 2000 km from Perth in Australian coast. It takes an aircraft four hours to fly there and four hours back, and leaves them only about two hours to search.
China is in close communication with Australia on the search for the missing MH370 plane, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday.
The Malaysian plane, with 239 people aboard, was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it disappeared on Saturday, March 8.