China Begins Somalia Piracy Patrols (Updated)
Two destroyers escorted their first four Chinese vessels in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The agency said the mission was to protect mainly Chinese vessels, but the navy would also help escort foreign ships if asked.
Qin Gang, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the navy would also protect ships from Taiwan, the self-governed island that Beijing claims as Chinese territory.
Video of the fleet from CCTV, via YouTube:
China Daily also provides information on the piracy patrols.
The three navy ships entered the waters off Somalia around 1 am yesterday after having set sail from Sanya, Hainan province, on Dec 26. The UN Security Council and Somalia’s transitional government both have approved of China’s mission: to primarily escort Chinese merchant ships off Somalia’s coast.
Yesterday’s escort mission started at 11 am. The destroyer and flagship, the Wuhan, led the fleet, with another destroyer, the Haikou, making up the rear. The ships maintained a distance of 1 nautical mile during the 550-nautical-mile escort journey.
[...]Mission commander, Rear Admiral Du Jingchen, said: “We will earnestly follow UN resolutions and relevant international laws strengthen coordination and keep a close watch to ensure the security of the vessels and crew being escorted.”
The UN Security Council adopted four resolutions toward the end of last year, calling on all countries and regions to help patrol the Gulf of Aden and the eastern part of Somalia’s coast to thwart piracy in one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.