December 22nd, 2008
I saw an article about this on Saturday, I think it was, but didn’t write anything about it because it’s not really my field and I thought others would pick it up. But so far I’ve seen no reaction, either on blogs or in the media. Maybe I’ve missed something- entirely possible. Anyway, I just found another article, this time on 竞报网, about the Chinese Navy sending three ships Somalia-wards to help protect shipping from the pirates over that way.
Escort shows “Chinese aegis” escort flotilla formed for Somali waters
Oooh… that’s an ugly translation of the headline. Nevermind, headlines are always ugly.
According to a Xinhua report, a flotilla of vessels of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy will go to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to carry out escort duties. The escort flotilla is made up of the “Wuhan” and “Haikou” guided missile destroyers and the “Weishan Lake” comprehensive supply ship from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s South China Sea Fleet.
The main responsibilities of the Chinese Navy’s escort flotilla are protecting Chinese shipping and the safety of personnel in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters and protecting the shipping of humanitarian supplies by the World Food Programme and other organisations.
海军舰艇编队赴亚丁湾、索马里海域执行护航任务，是中国政府按照联合国安理会有关决议和相关国际法承担的国际义务。护航行动对维护国际海上通道畅通和亚 丁湾、索马里海域的安全具有重要意义。中国国防部新闻发言人胡昌明２０日宣布，中国人民解放军海军舰艇将于１２月２６日从三亚启航前往亚丁湾、索马里海域 实施护航。
In sending its naval flotilla to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters the Chinese government is fulfilling its international obligations according to relevant UN Security Council resolutions and international law. The escort activity is very significant to protecting the openness of international shipping lanes and the safety of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. On the 20th, Chinese Ministry of Defence spokesman Hu Changming said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels would leave Sanya for escort duty in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters on the 26 December.
Now, I know the possibility of the Chinese Navy sending ships to the area has been in the English-language news and blogosphere, but so far the only articles announcing a definite Chinese naval commitment to defending shipping from the pirates I have seen have all been in Chinese. And it seems to me this is a pretty big, significant move.