Navy ensures navigation in a sea of danger

Updated: 2011-12-26 09:19

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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Better, but not over

In that manner, the Chinese navy has escorted more than 4,300 vessels from China and other countries through the unpeaceful waters in the past three years, Chinese military spokesman Geng Yansheng said recently. They also escorted vessels of the United Nations World Food Program four times and took care of 50 vessels that had been attacked or released by pirates.

For such a heavy mission, Beijing has sent 10 groups with a total of 25 warships, more than 8,000 military men and women, and 700 special operators.

"China will continue to dispatch naval escort squads to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters" in accordance with UN Security Council spirit, Geng said.

After 36 months of joint efforts by international navies, Wang Hongmin said, there are few cases of robbery in the Gulf of Aden.

"But the pirates did not disappear. Sea conditions in the area will get better soon, so the risk of pirate attacks will be on the rise in the near future. International navies have to stay there for a long term."

China's gains

The arduous efforts not only helped safeguard a key international commercial route, but also helped China.

"The biggest harvest in escort missions is that we guaranteed security of our lifeline at sea effectively," said Yin Zhuo, a military expert and retired navy rear admiral. "It costs a lot to keep escorting there, but we have to bear in mind that more than half of China's energy imports are carried via that route, as well as trade deals of about $3 trillion."

Besides, if the Chinese warships had not been there, the Xuzhou could not have escorted more than 2,000 Chinese who fled Libya, Wang said.

Zhang Qi, a People's Liberation Army officer who took part in early escort missions, wrote recently that China has found a "Chinese way" to be involved and contribute to international peacekeeping. In the Gulf of Aden, he said, the Chinese navy showed its efficiency - and will - to contribute to world peace through all kinds of joint missions, exchanges and exercises with foreign troops.

He made his comments in an article posted on the Defense Ministry's website on Dec 16.

Wang Hongmin feels the same way. "For instance, we had very good cooperation in escorts with Japanese helicopters. The Japanese pilots often exchanged information with us when they were still far away in the air, telling us what they found and asking for our situation."

The captain said he also met many foreign captains during the trip. "A foreign commanding officer told me he was impressed when he arrived at the Xuzhou frigate on a helicopter. The appearance and spirit of the Chinese navy have changed. Visitors can feel the confidence deep in minds of our soldiers."

Navy ensures navigation in a sea of danger 

The frigate Xuzhou was able to divert from the Gulf of Aden to help escort Chinese fleeing Libya when the Gadhafi regime began to fall. [Li Gaojian / for China Daily]