Chinese admiral wants navy supply bases overseas

Asian neighbours have been monitoring China's international deployments for signs of the country's rising global status translating into a more assertive foreign policy and presence.

Chinese admiral wants navy supply bases overseas

A Chinese rear admiral has urged the nation to set up navy supply bases overseas in an interview posted on the Ministry of Defence website after China paid ransom to free a ship held for nine weeks by Somali pirates.

China has operated patrols for a year now in the narrow Gulf of Aden, escorting Chinese and foreign ships through waters menaced by pirates operating off the Somali coast.

But coal and ore shipping lanes off the east coast of Africa have proved harder to defend. The De Xin Hai, captured 700 nautical miles east of Somalia in October, was ransomed for $4 million on Sunday.

Reflecting on the hardships endured by the Chinese patrol ships in the anti-piracy effort, Rear Admiral Yin Zhou floated the idea of bases abroad to support the vessels. (http://news.mod.gov.cn)

"This is entirely a matter for the country's foreign policy circles, but I feel that would be appropriate if we could have a relatively stable, fixed base for supplies and maintenance," said Yin, who is director of an advisory committee for the Chinese navy's drive to upgrade information technology.

"I think countries near any relatively long-term supply bases established by China, and other countries participating in the escort mission, could understand," he said, adding that would be more affordable than re-supplying via ship on the high seas.

Asian neighbours have been monitoring China's international deployments for signs of the country's rising global status translating into a more assertive foreign policy and presence.

The Chinese navy did not call at any port during the four months of its first mission to the waters off Somalia, creating problems with straining supplies, medical care and homesickness for sailors unable to communicate with their families, the interview and other media reports have noted.

The anti-piracy mission off Somalia has been the first such long-distance projection of Chinese naval power since the Ming dynasty, 600 years ago.

Chinese ships communicated with ships operating under a multi-national anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden, but did not formally cooperate with them. The deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Tim Lowe, suggested China could co-lead the grouping next year.

Yin did not suggest where the base would be. But the China Daily on Tuesday ran an interview with the Somali ambassador to China, asking for international assistance in building a coast guard.


Reuters

Last Mod: 30 Aralık 2009, 14:39
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