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Keeping peace in Somalian waters


08:45, January 04, 2013

It's four years since the Chinese navy began escorting ships off the coast of Somalia and through the Gulf of Aden to protect them from pirates. This is one of a series of measures that China has taken to address instability in Somalia and promote peace across the African Continent.

The Chinese navy sets out to protect shipping from pirates.

They have now escorted more than 4,800 ships in the waters off the Somalian coast and the Gulf of Aden, and directly deterred 50 pirate attacks since they began operations four years ago. Nearly half of the protected vessels were from other countries.

Those involved are proud of their role.

Li Jian, captain of medical team, PLA Naval Escort Squad, said,"Not every warship can access the high seas. Our vessel is authorized to do so by the United Nations. For me and many sailors, it's our dream to sail into the high seas."

A month ago, the 13th naval escort squad left China and headed to the region.

It will help protect cargo ships carrying humanitarian goods for the World Food Program and other international organizations.

Li Xiaoyan, commander of 13th Naval Escort Squad of PLA Navy, said,"The pirates may stage a comeback after a short period of peace. The escort mission may face new challenges in the coming months."

Multinational efforts to stop piracy in the region have been a success.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, by October 2012 pirate attacks had dropped to a six-year low. Only one ship was attacked in the third quarter compared to 36 during the same period in 2011.

China has played an important role in fighting piracy. On May 15th this year, the 11th naval escort squad of the PLA Navy successfully drove away 70 suspected pirate vessels after a four hour skirmish.

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