A military scholar believes China is doing the right thing by dispatching a naval task force to escort ships and protect them from pirates in waters off Somalia.
Colonel Ge Lide, researcher at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), was quoted by the weekly newspaper, Youth Reference, as saying, "As a responsible member of the international community, China is obliged to implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions to curb piracy on the high seas and protect the safety of marine routes."
The Chinese naval task force, which is made up of two missile destroyers and a supply vessel, set sail on Dec. 26. It is now on the Indian Ocean.
The PLA navy promised to escort Chinese merchant ships, which were harassed by pirates seven times in 2008. It will also escort foreign vessels on request.
Colonel Ge said, "With the discreet and aboveboard naval deployment, China doesn't have any intentions of challenging the security or commercial interests of other countries in the region. We are simply interested in guarding the international waters from armed pirates, our common enemies."
The task force's commanding officer said their primary job would be escorts, not actively engaging pirates. He, however, did not rule out possible fire exchange.
The 800 or so Chinese crew include about 70 members of the PLA Navy special forces.
"I certainly believe the Navy would win against any threats and fulfill its lofty duty," Colonel Ge said in the newspaper.
(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2009)