Beijing — China will continue to send naval fleets on escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, described by a Chinese naval officer as the nation's international obligation.
The pirates in the area have become more violent and are brazen in using weapons. Reinforcing escort forces is a real need and a long-term mission, Ding Yiping, deputy commander in the Chinese Navy, said on Thursday, the fifth anniversary of China's first such escort mission.
In the past five years, China has sent 16 fleets composed of 42 warships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, escorting 5,465 vessels and rescuing 42 ships attacked by the pirates, said Ding.
A total of 13,214 marines have participated in the escort missions.
Pirate activity has dropped off drastically in the wake of the escorts from various countries, Ding said. Only 11 incidents have been recorded this year to date, and none of them were successful.
The navy will expand its escort area and strengthen cooperation with international forces to ensure regional and world peace, he said.
Ding said that China has no plan to send its aircraft carrier to the area as it is still in sea trials and is not yet combat-ready.