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China hosts anti-piracy conference

Shanghai: China is hosting a two-day international conference to co-ordinate anti-piracy escorts for cargo vessels in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, writes BBC News. Representatives from Russia, Japan, India, the EU and Nato are focusing on how best to co-ordinate their navies in the escort missions. It is an indication of how deeply China is getting involved in the operation. Last year it sent warships to help patrol the area. Last month a Chinese cargo ship was hijacked with 25 crew.

The Chinese were cautious when they first joined the escort mission in the Gulf of Aden. But their co-operation, according to EU officials, has far exceeded expectations. Their warships have escorted more than 1,000 merchant ships through the shipping lanes.

When the EU and Nato proposed a more joined-up naval operation there, the Chinese were not keen to take orders from a central command operating in the patrol zones. That stance now appears to have changed, after the Chinese cargo ship De Xin Hai with 25 crew onboard was seized by Somali pirates last month north of the Seychelles.

In this hastily convened meeting, the Chinese hope the navies operating in the Gulf of Aden can come up with a formula to ensure safe shipping.

Chinese officials say they have a positive and open attitude towards international co-operation on shipping escorts and will co-operate with all countries and organisations to achieve peace and stability in the waters off Somalia.  [06/11/09]

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