A possible deployment of the Chinese Navy to fight piracy off Somalia has received overwhelming support from the country's domestic society.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei confirmed that the government is "seriously considering sending naval ships" to the waters in the near future when speaking at a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on Somali piracy in New York on Tuesday.
The official's remark was soon backed by researchers and netizens who also urged the government to send the fleet as soon as possible since a Chinese commercial ship was rescued after multi-national soldiers forced the retreat of pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday.
Naval exercise aimed at terror
Although the vice foreign minister did not mention the Chinese Navy's recent activities, a maritime exercise implied that the military has been preparing for overseas deployment.
The Chinese Navy has just finished an anti-terror exercise in South China Sea waters with warships and helicopters "rescuing" hijacked cargo vessels.
Major-General Jin Yinan, a prominent Chinese military strategist with the National Defence University of the People's Liberation Army, said earlier this month that the actions of pirates in Somalia waters had brought the same consequence as terrorists' actions.
Many netizens worried that the fleet deployment could be a challenge to test the Chinese Navy force's long-range combat ability since China has no overseas military bases to provide logistic supplies.
However, Jin said no overseas bases was a problem, but the navy's supply ships are capable enough after many tests in global voyages.
Public support to deploy fleet
A suvey conducted by www.huanqiu.com showed that more than 14,124 netizens, 90 percent of the total online interviewees, voted yes to sending a pirate-fighting fleet to Somalia as of Tuesday evening.
"We fully support the government's decision and hope the fleet could be deployed as soon as possible since China is a responsible country which should take part in multinational peacekeeping in the region," said a netizen in a posting on huanqiu.com.
"It is very essential to secure a safe maritime route for Chinese petrochemical companies since their oil imports from Arab countries will mostly go through Somalia waters," another netizen named Zhenhua said on www.zzdnews.com.
Many netizens hailed the possible fleet by comparing it with Chinese historical naval expeditions sponsored by the Ming government between 1405 and 1433, during which the emperor's envoy Zheng He led the fleet to as far as East Africa.