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China's motives for anti-piracy support questioned

Thursday, December 18, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

Security officials are warning against allowing China to take part in anti-pirate patrols near the Horn of Africa to avoid giving Beijing a further pretext to expand it naval power.

Chinese Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan said on Dec. 4 that “nobody should be shocked” if China dispatches warships to waters near Somalia to battle piracy.

“With China as a major world economy, it's very difficult to say that security problems across the world have nothing to do with us,” Jin told state-run Chinese media. “I believe the Chinese navy should send naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties.”

Jin heads a strategy institute at the National Defense University in Beijing.

China's support for anti-piracy naval activities contrasts with its continued opposition to U.S.-led efforts to combat arms proliferation through naval interdictions under the Proliferation Security Initiative.

China is rapidly building up its naval might by seeking a “blue water” navy capable of conducting military operations far from Chinese coasts. Currently, China has limited naval power projection capabilities, but is said to be expanding that with the acquisition of more capable guided missile ships and public discussion of aircraft carriers.

Jin invoked national pride as another reason for naval deployment. “If we don't take effective action, how will they see us abroad, and how will Chinese people view their government?” he said.

A Pentagon-sponsored report in 2005 warned that China was developing military power and other power relationships along a line from the Middle East to China’s coast in order to protect shipments of oil and other resources.

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