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China Sends Warships to Combat Terrorists and Pirates in Middle East

China has dispatched a guided-missile destroyer to the Gulf of Aden as part of a strategic anti-piracy operation, responding to escalating tensions sparked by rebel attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

Departure from Zhanjiang

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Setting sail from Zhanjiang, a coastal city in Guangdong province, the 46th fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy embarked on Wednesday for the Gulf of Aden.

Escalating Tensions

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The deployment comes amid increasing attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial ships navigating the Red Sea, a region further inflamed by the recent Israel-Hamas conflicts in the Middle East.

Background of the Conflict

Credits: DepositPhotos – YEMEN, Sanaa : Shiite-Houthi supporters raise rifles during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition. — Photo by YAY_Images

The Houthi rebels, aligned with Shiite interests, have been engaged in a prolonged conflict with Yemen’s Sunni-majority government, leading to instability in the region.

Vulnerability of Commercial Vessels

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China’s commercial ships have also fallen victim to Houthi attacks, prompting concerns over the safety of maritime trade routes in the area.

Ongoing Security Efforts

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The deployment of the 46th Fleet signifies China’s ongoing commitment to safeguarding vital waterways, including the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, which have long been plagued by piracy.

Composition of the Fleet

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Comprising the guided-missile destroyer Jiaozuo, the missile frigate Xuchang, and the comprehensive replenishment vessel Honghu, the 46th Fleet brings substantial firepower and logistical support to the mission.

Expert Analysis

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Collin Koh, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, highlighted the significance of China’s first anti-piracy mission of the year.

First Counter Piracy Mission

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He posted on X, “PLA Navy dispatches yesterday first new counter-piracy mission of 2024 from Guangzhou, the 46th Escort Task Force debuting destroyer Jiaozuo, whereas frigate Xuchang and fleet replenishment oiler Honghu are old-timers.”

Mission Objectives

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The primary objective of the mission is to ensure the safe passage of ships through the strategic waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, critical for global trade and commerce.

Geopolitical Implications

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While China has criticized U.S.-led airstrikes on Yemen, its response to Houthi attacks on commercial vessels underscores its pragmatic approach to balancing commercial interests with geopolitical concerns.

Diplomatic Engagement

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Recent discussions between China and Iran reflect efforts to address the Houthi rebels’ destabilizing actions, with China urging Tehran to rein in rebel activities amidst ongoing proxy conflicts in the region.

Training and Preparedness

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Chinese state media have reported that the naval fleet has conducted meticulous analysis and targeted training to prepare for various scenarios, including the rescue of hijacked commercial ships and combating piracy.

Ensuring Maritime Security

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By actively participating in anti-piracy efforts, China aims to contribute to international maritime security and uphold the stability of vital trade routes, crucial for the global economy.

Focus on Trade Route Stability

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The mission extends beyond piracy suppression, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding global trade routes and ensuring uninterrupted maritime commerce.

Regional Stability Measures

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China’s deployment of warships underscores its commitment to regional stability and its role as a responsible maritime stakeholder in the Middle East and beyond.

Continued Vigilance

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As tensions persist in the region, China remains vigilant, ready to take necessary measures to protect its interests and uphold maritime security in critical waterways.

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