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Escort mission tests the Chinese navy
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10:13, January 07, 2009

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China sent its naval fleet on Dec. 26 2008 to join the international anti-piracy task force patrolling the waters off Somalia. The escort vessels had sailed from Sanya, a city in southern China's Hainan Province to Gulf of Aden, where they participated in the anti-piracy mission after the United Nations Security Council authorized nations to conduct land and air operations on pirate bases.

The first escort duty of the Chinese navy has attracted world attention. Whether it is difficult for the Chinese naval fleet to join the global campaign on pirates and whether the China can fulfill the escort duties are the attentive focus.

Some analysts say the anti-pirate mission is of low-intensity conflict, and China, with advanced missile destroyers, can successfully fulfill the mission. While others hold that the escort duty, the first of this kind for China, will be a major test for Chinese navy. Although Chinese navy has completed several expeditions and taken part in many joint exercises and maneuvers with naval forces of other countries, the one off Somali waters is an expedition in the real sense.

The first time, expedition and combat are the key words for Chinese navy's escort duty in the Gulf of Aden. However, there are outstanding issues: whether China will dispatch naval forces to take part in the escort? And whether the Chinese navy is capable of doing such a mission? The first problem has been settled as the Chinese naval forces arrived in Somali waters.

But along with the launch of escort duties, a series of new problems have emerged, which require prompt response from the Chinese navy: whether the vessels, helicopters and various facilities can stay well for the three-month long anti-piracy mission? Whether observation equipment can effectively spot, recognize and track all the objectives, particularly in bad weather conditions and rough ocean conditions? Whether the weapons can meet the special requirement of anti-piracy task, and whether telecommunication, information as well as logistic service are vigorous and powerful? Have all the staff been trained capable of fighting against pirates? Will emergency be effectively handled? However, the final results will depend on whether Chinese naval fleet can fulfill its escort mission.

It is quite common for mighty navy to take on such a task. However, even the powerful navies worldwide regard anti-terror, anti-piracy as new and tough missions. The US navy, known as the world's No.1, suffered defeat in the battle with pirates, who made attacks on US Aegis cruiser.

The traditional mighty naval forces did not respond promptly and maintain the safety of important sea-lanes amid the rampant piracy off Somali waters. China is still a developing country, and Chinese naval force is also in its primary stage. There will be many "first time", which will all serve as tests for Chinese navy.

Chinese naval force poses no threat at all to all the countries around the world and will get tempered in all the tasks and tests, which will make it better to serve for the national security, shoulder responsibility and contribute more to the world and regional peace and equality.

By People's Daily Online

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