Beijing: China is in discussions to lead
anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia, state media
reported on Friday, in a sign of increased involvement in
international military cooperation.
"China in the future could take over the rotating
chairmanship of Somalia`s patrols," an unidentified defence
ministry official told the official China Daily newspaper. He
was referring to a task force that coordinates patrols.
But he said the exact start and length of the
leadership role were still being discussed, the report said.
China has been active in anti-piracy efforts in the
Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast, sending four flotillas
there since the end of 2008.
Before, the Asian nation`s navy had focused on the
defence of its coastal waters, combined with the occasional
friendly port call. Only in 2002 did it circumnavigate the
globe for the first time.
Last month, a top naval official raised the idea that
China could build foreign bases elsewhere.
Yin Zhuo, an admiral and senior researcher at the
navy`s Equipment Research Centre, proposed setting up a
permanent base to support ships on anti-piracy missions in the
Gulf of Aden.
Yin`s proposal came after a Chinese cargo ship and its
crew of 25 were rescued from Somali pirates, following the
payment of a USD 3.5-million ransom to their kidnappers.