Chinese navy to fight Somali pirates

December 19th, 2008 - 12:47 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 18 (Xinhua) China plans to deploy warships in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast to fight pirates, the foreign ministry said Thursday.”We are making preparations and arrangements to deploy naval ships to the Gulf of Aden for escorting operations,” the ministry said on its website.

“We will make a formal announcement when we are ready,” it said, without giving any further details.

Military sources said that it would be the first time that the Chinese navy would carry out escorting missions outside Chinese waters, and this mission was in line with related resolutions of the UN on combating pirates off the Somali coast.

The US, NATO and other countries have already sent naval forces in the area.

The Global Times newspaper, affiliated to the People’s Daily, cited anonymous maritime officials as saying that China would send a fleet of two destroyers and a supply ship to the Gulf of Aden.

The ships would depart from Sanya on the southern island province of Hainan for a three-month escorting mission in the region, the paper said.

The announcement came a day after a Chinese cargo ship fought off nine pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

The 30-member crew Wednesday fought for four hours against the pirates armed with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns with the help of a multi-coalition force. No injuries or deaths were reported.

“We deeply appreciate the effective help offered by Malaysia and international organizations,” Liu Jianchao, spokesman of the foreign ministry, told a press conference Thursday.

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