Admiral Timothy Keating of the U.S. Pacific Command said, “China’s plans to join the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia could lead to a renewal of military exchanges between Beijing and Washington I think this could be a springboard for a resumption of dialogue between PLA forces and US Pacific Command forces.”
“The military cooperation between the two sides should be based on international laws and codes, mutual respect and equal consultation,” said Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based expert quoted by the China Daily.
Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet is seen in this undated file photo. China’s navy will send two missile destroyers and a supply ship to the waters off Somalia this week to protect Chinese vessels and crews from pirate attacks.
“They’re on an actual mission, which could potentially involve combat, albeit of low intensity. That’s a real difference,” said Lyle Goldstein, director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College. “This is not a dangerous mission — actually, it’s the perfect coming out party for the Chinese navy.”
Several years ago China ended joint training and “militay-to-military” ties to the U.S. China wanted to protest U.S. support to Taiwan.
“It is a fact that the Chinese suspended ‘mil-to-mil’ dialogue with the Timothy Keating, who commands all U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific.in general and U.S. Pacific Command,” said Navy Adm.
Now both the U.S. and China are taking small steps toward renewing mutual exercises.
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
China Anti-Pirate Mission Another Step in International Engagement
From China Daily:
The fight against pirates in Somali waters will further enhance Chinese and US armies’ cooperation in anti-terrorism, a Chinese military expert has said.
The armed forces of China and the US will be cooperating for the first time in a real security environment off Somalia’s coast, Peng Guangqian, the Beijing-based expert said.
Defence Ministry spokesman Hu Changming said over the weekend that the navy would send two destroyers, 169 Wuhan and 171 Haikou, and 87 Weisanhu, a large supply vessel to Somali waters to combat pirates.
The ships will leave Sanya, Hainan province, on Friday, and the navy will strictly abide by relevant UN Security Council resolutions and international law, and cooperate with other convoy protection ships.
Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to authorize countries to fight piracy in Somali waters, and even on land, to free one of the world’s busiest commercial sea channels of the menace.
The military experts’ remarks came in response to US Pacific Command head Admiral Timothy Keating’s statement last week: “China’s plans to join the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia could lead to a renewal of military exchanges between Beijing and Washington I think this could be a springboard for a resumption of dialogue between PLA forces and US Pacific Command forces.”
China suspended military contacts with the US in October in protest against Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan.
“The military cooperation between the two sides should be based on international laws and codes, mutual respect and equal consultation,” Peng said. Only this way can bilateral military cooperation proceed steadily.
The vessels deployed by most of the countries in the Gulf of Aden off Somali waters are destroyers. “A destroyer is well balanced in attack and defense, and good for long missions. Compared with a corvette, a destroyer is more suitable for long-distance combats,” said Du Wenlong, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Military Science.
The Gulf of Aden leads to the Suez Canal and is the quickest route from Asia to Europe and the Americas.
It is also one of the important trade arteries for China, through which about 40 percent of all the goods and raw materials bound for the country pass, said Kang Shuchun, an expert in Chinese shipping who runs a website.
Somali pirates have attacked 20 percent of the Chinese ships that passed through Somali waters from January to November. They hijacked 15 of those vessels, and are still holding one of them and 18 crewmen to ransom, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Chinese experts called for close cooperation between the Chinese fleet and foreign counterparts in the mission against the pirates.
But, Du cautioned, the problem with the Somali mission is not the ability to attack or defend, but to identify pirate ships.
“A hijacking usually is over in 15 minutes,” Du said. “It’s hard to identify pirates on the sea and take defensive action in time.”