For the first time in modern history, the Chinese navy is deploying a task force on an active maritime mission beyond the Pacific Ocean that could involve combat operations. Beijing's unprecedented decision to join the anti-piracy fleet off Somalia's coast resulted from a pragmatic assessment of the likely net security benefits to China from the deployment. The international community, including the United States, should likewise approach the issue from a hardheaded perspective.
On Dec. 26, 2008, two destroyers and a supply ship of the South China Sea Fleet departed from the Yalong Bay naval base at Sanya, on Hainan Island, scheduled to arrive in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia on Jan. 6. The task force's declared mission is to inspect suspected pirate ships, assist vessels that come under pirate assault, and defend themselves if threatened. The anticipated duration of the initial deployment is three months, but any Chinese ship that withdraws could be replaced by another. ...
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