Three Chinese warships departed their homeland today a seemingly minor and some say symbolic anti-piracy mission near Somalia.
But the “out of area” deployment of Naval Warships from China is really the first such adventure in hundreds of years.
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China’s Naval Task Force Departs For Historic Near Africa Mission; International Hopes
The story below was prepared before the ships departed China:
In what would be the first active deployment of its warships beyond the Pacific, China appears set to send naval vessels to help in the fight against hijackers in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.
A vice foreign minister and a leading naval strategist were quoted in Chinese state media on Wednesday as saying that Beijing is close to mounting a naval mission in the gulf.
By Mark McDonald
The New York Times
“China is seriously considering sending naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escorting operations in the near future,” said the Foreign Ministry official, He Yafei, quoted by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. His remarks came at a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
Li Jie, a military strategist and naval expert, told the state-run China Daily that cooperating with a multinational force operating against East African pirates would be a “very good opportunity” for the Chinese Navy.
“Apart from fighting pirates,” he said, “another key goal is to register the presence of the Chinese Navy.”
The newspaper earlier this month said Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan, a military planner at the National Defense University, had conceived the Gulf of Aden plan. The paper quoted General Jin as saying that “the Chinese Navy should send naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties.”
“If one day the Chinese Navy sends ships to deal with pirates,” he said, “nobody should be shocked.”
Traditionally concerned with coastal defense, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has been undergoing a wide and rapid modernization program, especially in the bolstering of its submarine fleet. A long-range goal of the Chinese expansion has been the development of a blue-water navy capable of extended tours.
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