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The Return of Zheng He? China's Navy on the Move

The announcement today that China will dispatch its navy to defend against pirates of the Somali coast is a big one. It marks the first time that China has committed itself to taking part in what a Chinese naval officer called a multi-lateral "battle task."

That harkens back to Zheng He, the Ming Dynasty court eunuch who commanded a fleet of vessels that crossed the Indian Ocean and made it to the coast of East Africa (and maybe beyond). Zheng He's fleet consisted of giant nine-masted junks, supply ships, water tankers, patrol boats, and more than 27,000 sailors and soldiers. The largest of the junks was over 400 feet long and 150 feet wide -- more than twice the size of Spanish or Portuguese vessels of that time. Zheng, who sailed the seas almost a century before Christopher Columbus found the Americas, brought back boatloads of goodies from his voyages, including a giraffe that apparently spooked the emperor. After several voyages, however, China's blue water navy days were over -- a casualty of conservative forces within the Forbidden City that saw no reason for China to engage in foreign adventures.

Well, it looks like they are back now. China's navy has been growing slowly but surely over the past 20 years. They have purchased destroyers from Russia, equipped with Sunburn anti-ship missiles (with over the horizon capability); they have a growing fleet of submarines -- both diesel and nuclear. They have improved their amphibious landing capabilities. They still don't have an aircraft carrier. (Reports that China was building or on the verge of buying an aircraft carrier have been popping up in the press since the late '80s.) But that could change.

China's contribution to the multi-lateral task force will be more modest than Zheng He's crew: two destroyers and a depot ship will debark from the big PLA naval base on Sanya Island after Christmas.

There's been some speculation about why China decided to pony up men and materiel for the fight. For one, six Chinese ships have been attacked by pirates. So there's been a lot of chatter in Chinese on the Internet accusing the government of not standing up to this menace. More pointedly, however, India's navy has been performing yeoman's work against the pirates and it appears that China -- which views India as a natural competitor -- also wanted to get in on the act.

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Comments (48)

wombatmaster Author Profile Page:

"Somali":

Please go to Zimbabwe to partake of its medical care. If you can find a doctor who hasn't emigrated. Perhaps you, Mugabe and Arap-Moi can send your continent back anotther 500 years of development while you're at it.

The colonial period wasn't the best for Africans. We get it. But the post-colonial period hasn't been exclusively the fault of the past colonial countries, either.

Blaming the past (or "whites") for African problems won't help African economies to grow or African societies to thrive. Only hard work, thrift, education, and investing in the future of your society can do that.

What China now wants to do is to stop parasitic individuals, based on fast boats that go to port in Somalia and Yemen, from raising the costs of Chinese trade and development. If you can't acknowledge that parasitic pirates should be stopped, then you really area a Mugabe-wannabe, and I mourn for you.


PS Bush sucks big fat hairy nuts. And so does the Chinese Communist Party, and so do religious zealots.


generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

Who the HELL is Sing1?
Are You even a human being?
How old are you?

Why don't you drop your nuclear bomb into your mama's pants?

If you don't know how to be funny, go learn some.
I can't believe someone would give birth to you, and feed you. It is insult for your parents to allow you to speak like that.

sing1 Author Profile Page:

Somali is a failed state. Drop couple of nuclear bomb there. Problem solved.

yidongliang Author Profile Page:

It is the first time for China to send her warships abroad to guard her nationals' ships. It is said there are thousands of China-owned ships sailing in Somali region.

Although Chinese navy is not so strong, China has the duty to guard China-owned ships.

As a Chinese, I know China has improved a lot in the past 30 years from 1978's reforming and opening up. The average GDP per person is now around $2500 a year, much higher than 30 years ago. Compared to developed countries' average, this number is too low. So the main task of China is increasing her economy not to be a military superpower.

Dongliang
yidongliang@yahoo.cn

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Brother Somali,

As Chinese we understand your pain, and we never want to send any our navy into your water or troops in you land. What we want is that the pirates who dwell in your coast do not cross the international water to hijack our merchant ships. Have you read the news that they recently target on the ships that bear Chinese flags?

If you are righteous Somali, a true patriot, then you should bring your weapon go clean your own coast. And we understand that that is your problem, if your family start beating and enslaving each other, and until you all want to live civilized way, no one can help you, nor American's weapon, or other's food, only when you Somali people who want to take your own fight against your weakness. No one can help a man who wants to crawl for whole life.

We China, never wanted get involved in family problem. But we don't want to see your family problem causes our innocent people to suffer or die, as long as your pirates don't pick our ships in the international water, then whether it is okay those bad peoples who ruining your country right now it is only for you, your Somali people to say.

If your wife passing by our neighbor street, and my son robbed her and raped her, and held her for a ransom, then you must come and protect her right? Could I tell you that I love my son, so I will always protect him to do the sinful deeds he likes? Unless, me and my son do this deed for living, then I would troll a song to make our belief a justice.

Again, it is okay those bad people killing your people if your people like it and believe firmly that is your African tradition, we can't be American to send our army to save your people, do it Chinese way, it is your people's fight, it is your turn.

The history never records Chinese ever want a piece of meat in Africa, blame French, British... and mostly blame your own people, when your country people fight against each other so provides yourselves to other, when 100 yrs ago, China was separated and occupied by multi-europe countries, our ancestors blamed on our own government our own people, and we gathered and stood up again strong, but you can't just whinnying that it is always others, when those pirates live among your people rape your country and other passerby, and you feel patriotic to protect them.

You want to be patriot? Think goodness, act well.

Skater never blames the ice for her fall.

You don't even know what's righteous?
How can you be a patriot?

Somali Author Profile Page:

The Cocaine-Snorting Terrorist They Call "president" Is The Enemy Of Humanity!!

IF China joins the CRIMINAL onslaught against my motherland Somalia, I for one, as one Somali, will NEVER forget it. And many PATRIOTIC Africans who love their countrries WILL TAKE Note of China's ACTIONS!!!

The white man from Europe and NOW from America have SPILT a lot of BLOOD in Africa. The CRIMES the white man COMMITTED under COLONIALISM have NEVER been FORGOTEN in Africa. In Fact Africans are still trying TO FEND OFF the criminal, murderous attempts of the white man terrorist to SUBJUGATE Africans and RULE over us in BRUTYAL and MURDEROUS fashion. The white man is SUPPORTING criminal, MURDEROUS terrorist governments in Africa, such as the terrorist murderous "government" (more like a Criminal gang) of Meles Zenawi of ethiopia, a man who has cold blooded murderred Thousands in Somalia and Ethiopia. The terrorist Criminal white man's hand is in Congo, where his support for murderous, terrorist militias has resulted in the mass murder of FIVE MILLION people. The white man's crimes in Congo can olny be called a HOLLOCAUST.


Patriotic Zimbabweans are STILL TRYING TO FEND OFF the murderous terrorist white man who HATES Robert Mugabe, a TRUE SON OF AFRICA WHO LIBERATED HIS LAND FROM GLUTONOUS, GREEDY WHITES, and you all SEE the result of the ECONOMIC WARFARE that the terrorist white man has unleashed against Zimbabwe INDISRIMINATELY, putting SANCTIONS on ZImbabwe that have brought that poor, defenceless land to its KNEES. If effect, to get Robert Mugabe, the white man is LAYING WASTE to ALL of Zimbabwe. It is NOT Mugabe who is DESTROYING Zimbabwe, it is the Terrorist white man who is trying to re-take the land that was taken from his greedy kin.

Look what they have done to South Africa, ever since they BOUGHT and CO-OPTED Nelson Mandela and the other "leaders" of that Rich, rich, rich, BUT unhappy country. The FEW whites live LIKE KINGS and QUEENS while the TRUE son of the country, the African is LEFT HUNGRY and very, very ANGRY!! WAIT UNTIL THE SONS OF SOUTH AFRICA WILL NO LONGER STOMACH THE CRIMINAL WHITE MAN'S EXPLOITATION. That country is RIPE for a HUGE spasm of violence!!!!

So we, Africans, are aware of the white man's murderous, criminal activities in Africa. China, be ware. DO NOT JOIN in the huge WAR CRIMES that the criminals and terrorists who amassing on Somali waters are about to commit on Somali land. The so called United Nations has become, since Iraq, the white man's RUBBER STAMP PAD for his International crimes.

artistkvip1 Author Profile Page:

nice article, i agree it's most likely a good thing when world powers, amd china, is certainly a world power, work together and volenteer resources that benifit all of the people of the world who have ships that sail the seas the pirates operate in... maybe this will help the out going vice president dick cheney rest easier.... i keep hearing about him being concerned people are trying to get in the way of his american dick-tater-ship... silly me i didn't realize that dick had a ship or transported potatoes surely they were talking about the cheney dictatership of america. i look forward to his wise words when he utters them under oath and in public in the near future.. i like most americans, do realize he has a bad heart....

Donald2 Author Profile Page:

Under the China bashing trend, China will be criticized of irresponsible if not sending Navy there, and may be seen as military expansion if sending a few small ships. However, after some sailors from Shanghai fought the pirates with glass bottle filled with gasoline and almost burned their own ship, Chinese Navy must go. If they don't, people in Shanghai may through eggs to Chinese Navy.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

By this case, we all know that US did not do a good job to police the world, that US should have long time ago solved the Somalia problem, but it deems it was not enticing for US do any investment there I do not know why anyone could not find oil there, and it was so simple for US to do it, but we all need to ponder the why US didn't.

US has all the naval power to do it, but it seems that there no fish in Somalia water.

And now, the whole world people have to send their ships to patrol that water, ridiculous.

And as not so recent history records that US had all the opportunity to do a good work for Somalia people, even to Somalia government, education and president... and now it seems that US back out.

Not only that, US has 150,000 troops near Somalia, stationed in Iraq, Afgan, India, Turkey, army, navy, air force... but why US could not send a few GIs there to patrol that water? Is US incapable?

Is Somalia Piracy are too difficult to deal than Iraq? Or there is no profit in that water? Aren't those pirates terrorists? It seems those pirates know that as long as they don't hijack US merchant ships, then US would never want to have a word with them, very cooperatively understand US' nature and motive. One almost doubt that maybe US and those pirates have mutual understanding.

And Zheng He, if Chinese are really aggressive in nature (compared to Western Cultura to 1600-1900), today China map would reach where Zheng He went.

That reminds us Columbus, and America.

Secondly, Zheng He did not lead a battle fleet, there are no weapons and guns loaded on his giant fleet, gifts, silk, jade, paper... and he traded with Indians, Arabians...

And I hope Mr. Pomfret be very specific about reporting our history, don't manufacture our history as aggression as your ancestors' sinful deeds mocked your people and God, sure Zheng brought back the treasure of land, but thru trading gift, not a robbery as Columbus' fleet did.

Third, as Chinese we don't want to send any troops outside, it is always US job to protect US' own interest by policing the world.

If there are six US ships were attacked, or lat say there are only six US tourists were attacked by those pirates, WWAD, What Would American Do?

But it seems those pirates only target on other nations' ships, not even one US ship. Is it strange?

WestTexan2008 Author Profile Page:

Some thoughts on China's blue-water navy.

1. China is trying out it's blue-water capabilities but they are still rather 'baby-blue' with no modern experience in long range operations.

2. The Chinese navy is building new ships, but they are still twenty years behind the U.S. and Europe in targeting and weapons technology. Much of their designs are simply improvements on Russian equipment from the 1980's. They still need to buy engines and other parts from Europe.

3. The Chinese navy has 'short legs.' They are designed to project power to Taiwan, not Africa. The Chinese have no significant UNREP ability and on-station sustainability is questionable at best.

4. The Chinese are trying to get into carrier aviation and may be successful over time. But only the Americans, Japanese and British have ever had long term successful power projection through fixed wing carrier operations. The Japanese, no longer; and the British are dismantling their carrier aviation because of the expense of maintaining that body of knowledge. Several nations have tried and failed to have true aircraft carriers.

5. The Chinese have a rather large submarine fleet, but it is older technology and very short legged.

6. Budget constraints channel PLAN funds toward Taiwan and local operations, not global 'show the flag' operations.

TomfromNJ1 Author Profile Page:

I am not sure why the navies of the world cannot simply wait until the ransom is paid and then, as these people leave the ships, sink their little boats from the air. By the time they have taken over a big ship and are negotiating, everyone knows where they are. We do not want to hit them while they are aboard because innocent people will be hit. But it we wait and destroy them when they leave, I have a feeling they will stop. It would not take all the navies in the world. Just one with helicopters or even missiles -- their speedboats will not outrun either.

Or we could do what was done for the pirates of the early 19th century -- go after them on land. They won't be hard to miss -- look for the big fancy houses. They will be the leaders.

AmericanInterestsFirstandLast Author Profile Page:

Given the limited scope of the craft used by the pirates, surely it is wrong to overestimate the extent of the area that will have to be patrolled.

With modern radar any sort of cooperative picket strategy plus notification by vessels about to transit along with their proposed course ought to enable the fleet to put an end to this lawlessness.

"Sight, sink, shoot on sight" ought to be the standing order of the day.

In sum this occupation should once more be made both unprofitable and terminal just as piracy has been treated historically.

seungping Author Profile Page:

John, you are a China's typical foreign devil. Why must you bring up India as another justification for China to do something useful for itself as well as for other countries.

phoenixresearch Author Profile Page:

"One more point: the Somali pirates are known to be using well-armed speedboats that could outrun the warships of the nations now going after them."

-----------------------------------

That point is irrelevant, once the anti-piracy forces decide to engage with lethal return fire.

It then becomes a 3D killing zone, w/ US C-130 gunships based out of Djibouti and Predator drones ensuring no Somali speed boat survives an engagement.

The ONLY reason these pirates are active is a standing non-lethal policy.

Give it a while ... it won't be long before lethal force becomes justified.

MPatalinjug Author Profile Page:

Yonkers, New York
20 December 2008

It should be welcome news that the Chinese Navy will be joining other countries to go after Somali pirates operating successfully in the Arabian Sea and victimizing ships in the area.

But China's contribution may prove quite small, given the size of the area--some one million squre miles--that the navies of several countries will need to cover.

One more point: the Somali pirates are known to be using well-armed speedboats that could outrun the warships of the nations now going after them.

And a final point: The nations' warships now operating in the area will need to coordinate their efforts so that they do not make the tragic mistake of hitting each other instead of the Somali pirates.

Mariano Patalinjug
MarPatalinjug@aol.com

seungping Author Profile Page:

It is a little late but never too late for China to do something to protect its own ships and hopefully ships of other countries. Why must you bring up India as another justification? You are indeed a foreign devil.

Hypocrite1 Author Profile Page:

Hey, John:
Need you to have some comment on this piece that I read in Forbes (12/17/08):

With the U.S. taking stakes in bailed-out companies--from AIG to big banks to, potentially, automakers--a mainland Chinese government official jokingly asked an American visitor whether the U.S. needed any help running Communist-style state-owned companies and building infrastructure. "We have experience at that," the Chinese official said.
Remember the good old days when America went around lecturing the world about the need to embrace capitalism? Now the tables are turned. Chinese officials are not just cracking jokes, but recently warned the U.S. Treasury secretary not to continue messing up the global economy, lest China stop using its vast foreign-exchange reserves to buy U.S. government bonds.....

miguled Author Profile Page:

I am somali-american. I am very happy what the piracy guys did. They brough needed international attention to Somalia. Two folds: first, they were alot of illegal finishing and waist dumping in Somali waters last 18 years. Now that is gone. Second, the piracy problem cannot go away unless there is functioning goverment to eliminate the piracy in the long term. US, Russia or China cannot be at the Somali waters forever, even if they stay 3 years the day they leave the piracy will come back unless there is stable goverment. So, good job to piracy folks, they made alot of money and now Somalia has the international attention it needs.

slomiamg Author Profile Page:

WELL AT LEAST SOMEBODY DOING SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE WITH THEIR NAVY! I mean seriously, a bunch of barefoot 90 pound teenagers in dingys threatening the safety of global commerce and NOBODY can do anything because of the silly U.N. Why is even a single ship being attacked? I mean, if in the 1940's the Allies could completely defeat the U-boat problem in the ATLANTIC, how hard can it be to patrol 10 square miles of water and start arming vessels like they also did in the 1940's? And what's with freakin pirate town?

And for all of you who don't like it, well, I'd rather have the Chinese Navy looking to blow up a gang of morons than getting held hostage in freakin Somalia the next time I want to take a container ship around the world!

You just wait until a huge cruise gets hijacked and see how civil the world will be to Somalia THEN.

Doubter1 Author Profile Page:

donmac1 :
If the worlds navys decide to eliminate Somolias pirates it will happen. That is a small problem compared to Chinese military expansion. Hopefully China is more concerned with domestic prosperity than confrontation with the west. The irritating thing to me is that America is financing a large part of Chinas military "modernization". Just go to youre local Walmart and see who is supplying most of the products.

----------------------------

I think you get everythng wrong here. Unlike Russia, China has not postured by sending planes and ships to US enemies; neither does China make any OFFICIAL threats against the US. No, the US is not "helping" Chinese military modernization, the Chinese loan the money to the US so it can buy/maintain a 11-aircraft carriers and other military hardwares. Without Chinese finance, the wars in Iraq and Afganstan are impossible if fighting these two wars simultaneously. Get your facts straight, my fellow nationalistic American!

honorswar26 Author Profile Page:

John.
You are a little behind the times. The Chinese has already bought a carrier. In fact, they have bought four of them; one from Australia and three from Russia. While most of them have been dismantled (after careful study) or turned into floating casinos, the former Russian aircraft carrier Varag, sister ship to the current Russian Navy carrier Kuznetzov, is currently being refitted in a Chinese port. Building a completely new Chinese carrier is perhaps what you meant to say. The Indians have far more experience (40+ years) with aircraft carrier design and operation, not to mention the fact that they have a carrier in operation, another one being refitted by the Russians and have begun to build a brand new aircraft carrier of their own design.

As far as the Chinese navy having any effect on Somali piracy, remains to be seen. The Chinese have also supported several east African regimes who have been far less than savory towards the West and freedom in general (think Sudan and the Darfur genocide campaign) Some of the newer Chinese warships are fairly potent, but without aircraft carrier support can easily be overwhelmed from above (or below by a submarine)

yeolds Author Profile Page:

rgr1 :

The solution for Somalia is that the USA keep her nose out of it, quit sending proxies [Ethiopia] to invade the country, and send food from the USA in large quantitites as a part paynemt for the war crmes commited in the last few years: Predators, bombing by Planes, financing invasion, etc, free of charge - as the USE can not send money, for the USA is broke.

Posted on December 18, 2008 17:08

JeffreyChen :

The best intelligence, USA or Russia indicates that IRAN is NOT MAKING BOMBS - thus their enrichment is LEGAL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW - so China is Right, the USA/Israel is wrong.

Darfur, while there are many reasons for the unrest/civil war, it is not the faqult of China, while Iraq's and Afganistan are far worse, caused exclusively by USA or her proxies, the NATO powers etc -- you have never condemned the USA, for either of those invasions, nor for THE EFRICAN COMMAND, nor for the 20 odd other invasions/covert regime changes etc. - in many cases due to efforts to control the oil supplies from foreign lands.

With respect to N Korea: What do you suggest? starve the country [as Israel does to Gaza]? invade as USA did to Iraq? It was not China which broke the agreement Mr. Clinton made with N. Korea, it was Mr. Bush, the USA President. Is it China's fault that there was an IDIOT in the White House?
China was the world's Power House for Centuries with India - they fell to European Colonization and to Opium courtesy of United Kingdom,. now they are reviving. Neither Country invaded anyone [Tibet was a part of China before] so what is your beef? - write about them ASAP

donmac1 Author Profile Page:

If the worlds navys decide to eliminate Somolias pirates it will happen. That is a small problem compared to Chinese military expansion. Hopefully China is more concerned with domestic prosperity than confrontation with the west. The irritating thing to me is that America is financing a large part of Chinas military "modernization". Just go to youre local Walmart and see who is supplying most of the products.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

1. @ PatrickInBeijing, December 18, 2008 9:53 PM

I always enjoy reading your posts, Patrick. Yours help put issues in perspective and encourage a more rational conversation.

Regards.

2. @ marknesop, December 18, 2008 10:21 PM, you are quite right re: the "Gulf of Tonkin incident"...

It is amazing that after so many decades, one still needs to insist that incident never happened! --- But what can I say, is it not true that some still believe the US won the Vietnam war? --- Cheers!

3. infoshop writes: "Quote "...Zheng He's fleet consisted of giant nine-masted junks..." Does anyone know what the author mean "JUNKS"?"

You obviously have an exceptional sense of humour, infoshop, yet you would learn more should you spend your time reading Levathes, Louise (1997), "When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433". Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-511207-5. The book comes with pictures appended.

bogt Author Profile Page:

Two Destroyers aren't going to do much in an area that size. It does however, send a signal to the Somali's. They know full and well, that the Chinese have no reservations about killing people, and don't have large groups of immigrants back home to get up in arms when innocent people get in the way of the heavy lifting.

More worrisome to me, is the ongoing tension between Pakistan and India, and what China's response would be in any escalation of that.

Doubter1 Author Profile Page:

The idea that China sends navy ships to the Somali coast in order ro counter-balance the presence of Indian navy ships is laughable. Unlike Indians, Chinese people are not obsessed with another 1 billion plus third-world country (have you heard of the expression "Indian #3?"; most Chinese look up to the US - this is the country they want to compete with. As usual, John provides readers with semi-baked story totally devoid of intellectualism and reality.

KraftPaper Author Profile Page:

The matter with China you cite is so off the mark you must be reading the Bejing Press. China is on the other side of every item you mention: nuke, NK, Iran,Sudan. Turn off the propaganda.

As for the anti-piracy gesture. I am surprised that no one has noted that this pits them against us in a manuever that will spill out over into the Red Sea. When China blinks I'll be laughing. We have the Nimitz to play a pissing game with and I like those odds. Go Navy.

2bits Author Profile Page:

Is there any news on the Chinese naval base at Gwadar in Beluchistan (SW Pakistan)? It sits near the Straits of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf -- and will be linked to China via a railroad through Pakistan. This installation is part of China's "String of Pearls": naval bases extending around SE Asia and along the Indian Ocean. As you note, China views India as a natural rival and China's relations with Pakistan have important consequences for worldwide balance of power.

tbrucia Author Profile Page:

I'm at a loss to understand folks who think it's an insurmountable obstacle to identify, track and destroy pirate ships. Use decoys (armed but outwardly merchant ships to draw the pirates in...). Track ships using spy satellites. Use cruise missiles to destroy the 'mother ships'. Let some 'escape' so they lead the trail back to their 'home bases'. Destroy all ships in these towns. Circle the 'pirate nests' with troops and checkpoints (as the Israelis have done to the Palestinians in Gaza): nothing goes in or out of 'pirate towns' without being inspected (money and gold out; ammunition, munitions and weapons in). When the risk/reward ratio becomes intolerable and when all the tools of piracy have been destroyed you will simply have poor, broken refugees dependent on aid -- and therefore just like millions of other sad folks all over the world who 'live on the dole'. Cheaper to feed villages than to submit to pirate demands!

rgr1 Author Profile Page:

China's cooperation in fighting somalia's piracy is good news for everybody except the pirates and it shows than when China has the same interests have no problem in cooperating with other countries, even if this cooperation is of a symbolic nature.

That Gulf of Alden is a major shipping route that connects Europe and Asia (and Africa) and insurance costs have increased ten times for the boats crossing it (from 900 to 9000$) during last year. Increasing transportation costs and uncertainty, and 30 million $ on ransoms (according to Catham house study). It is very difficult to know the totals costs of Somalia's piracy. But you can read a resume in http://www.marinebuzz.com/2008/12/05/10-undesired-results-of-somali-piracy/
So almost everybody looses from that situation.

The problem is that EU, NATO and other Asian countries are not going to win this fight with conventional weapons, at least there have been not much progress and piracy tactics have evolved. It's like terrorism, that can't be fight by old military means. let me remind you about another pirate story. It was in an island called Taiwan and the famous Kuo Hsing Yeh (Koxinga). Not the Qing's dinasty nor Dutch could end Koxinga pirate empire.

So, what can be done? Help Somalia state to restore order. But how? I'm sorry but, the only way I can think about is by a huge UN military and humanitarian mission that is going to cost a lots of money. And who is going to pay and send troop there? Nobody. US had it's bad experience in 1996 and is not willing to go back there, the EU has other things in mind and China 5 principles dont have room for this kind of interventionism... at least for now. The neighbours are poor and have plenty of problems themselves...

Increasing multipolarity can increase multilateralism (as the anti-piracy mission) but also decrease the commitment and responsabilities the great powers are willing to take, so getting worse results!

anakin1992 Author Profile Page:

JUNKS is a ship style specially for ships made by china in old days. it was very powerful ship at the time.

mbillips Author Profile Page:

@Infoshop: A junk is a type of sailing ship commonly used in Southeast Asia since the third century BC. The name is an anglicized pronunciation of the Malay name for such ships, and has no connection to the English word junk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junk_(ship)

infoshop Author Profile Page:

Quote "...Zheng He's fleet consisted of giant nine-masted junks..." Does anyone know what the author mean "JUNKS"?

AmericanInterestsFirstandLast Author Profile Page:

As usual the Chicoms get the most bang from bucks earned selling their exports to the gullible U.S. consumer.

As long as the U.S. and the West are able to police an area and so expend their resources the Chicoms will be pleased to take a free ride.

Since it is now fairly obvious to them that their interests are not being protected they reluctantly insert themselves into the scene and share in the burden.

Maybe with our severe recession or worse the Chicoms will come to appreciate the importance of maintaining access to the U.S. market and perhaps this will at last encourage some degree of cooperation and reciprocity in trade.

The insufferable arrogance they now exhibit and the craven reactions this elicits from such as Paulson who is only seeking wider and greater access to Wall Street banking interests now borders on hubris.

Perhaps the Gods are at work and have contrived the current downturn with the help of such as Maldorf, Bush, Goldman Sachs, et al put the Chicoms down a peg or two.

marknesop Author Profile Page:

Onlookers would be wise not to underestimate China's growing power, as well as their ability to project it. Modern Chinese warships are a far cry from their creaking, crude predecessors - world naval powers once made the same mistake with Japan. Lessons in power projection have not been lost on China, always an avid learner, and their naval strategists are well aware of the logistics chain needed to maintain a blue-water task group.

I wholeheartedly agree with Patrick in Beijing: the most effective counterpiracy initiative would be the establishment of a stable and popularly-supported government in Somalia, with the resources and capabilities to get a market economy going and to give the people hope. Piracy is the choice of some because they have no other. Many would work, if there were any jobs. Surely there is something Somalis can make or produce that the rest of the world will buy.

Meanwhile, an extra naval presence in the region should be welcomed; that's a big area, and every surveillance asset a godsend. As to the suggestion that a Chinese presence might result in a "Gulf of Tonkin incident" because somebody accidentally fired at another warship; do you have any idea what you're talking about? The Gulf of Tonkin incident was an excuse for the United States to escalate the Vietnam conflict, and attacks against American ships were largely imagination. A large-scale naval action between the United States and China, or any other naval power in the area, would be to nobody's advantage because nobody is interested in claiming Somalia, while it is in everybody's interest that the piracy problem be resolved.

brucerealtor@gmail.com Author Profile Page:

1421 AD -- The Year China Discovered America by author Gavin Menzies, published by Transworld Publishers in Britian and by William Morrow in the USA.

1421年公元 -- 年中国由作者Gavin发现了美国Menzies,出版由Transworld Publishers在英国和由威廉Morrow在美国。

PatrickInBeijing Author Profile Page:


Let's see, some condemn China for sending it's ships to help, others say it should be condemned for not participating in world peace keeping missions.

It would help if people paid more attention to the world. The Chinese have contributed peacekeepers to a number of UN missions (even right next door to the US in Haiti!!!).

As to the current mission, good!!! Shouldn't every nation that is capable of doing so try to stop piracy?

Ever since the US and other European countries helped destroy Somalia as a nation, the area has been in turmoil. But the West doesn't really care about the people there (no oil), just about protecting it's things.

It is strange for America (which has a huge military base in Somalia) to complain or worry about other nations sending military forces to the area. Or do we Americans think we own it? And if we do, shouldn't we clean it up and help establish a government?

The best way to end piracy is to have an effective government in place in Somalia.

helloisanyoneoutthere Author Profile Page:

What George W. Bush has done with his mistake in Iraq has created an even bigger threat than any terrorist could ever be.

He's opened "Pandora's Box" where the United States can no longer protect its interests and openly allowed China the opportunity and ability to protect its own.

We can now pass the baton of being the world’s superpower over to China.

spoogra Author Profile Page:

I don't buy the size or number-of-ships figures for Zheng He's expeditions. For one thing, many of the ships were reported lost on the way, but no wrecks approaching that size have ever been found. For another thing, modern attempts to rebuild wooden ships of that size have all failed, because the wood doesn't have the required tensile strength. So I think the mighty Zheng He fleet may have been a bit of a historical exaggeration...

Gatshalc Author Profile Page:

"Wouldn't the West love it if that's all China wants? the return of Zheng He. After all, with superior naval technology and capability 500 years ago, all she did was made a peaceful round along the coasts of Asia and Africa. Aggression was never part of the agenda. It doesn't fit the logics of the West and that's why Westerners are perplexed. It's completely natural to Chinese thinking though. Just because you have a bigger gun, doesn't mean it is wise to go around beating up or intimidating your neighbors. Let's the Zheng He legacy live on as a reminder to Chinese and the world of the wisdom of minding your own business. Chinese people don't want their country to be a superpower, even if she can be."
-Jiaming

Such A nice comment to make my dear Sino friend. Unfortunately You forgot that that the Chinese or as I should say Zho-ng guo', pardon my spelling and accents, Is the middle kingdom between "Heaven" and the rest of the world. A nation with that name does not navigate the coastal waters of Africa, which by the way has never before been observed by the Ming state but by Muslim traders and others, for merely peace. And also from the accounts of history Zheng He, he brought back the leader of Ceylon, and according to the period leaders leave for few reasons, and those reasons are of their own accord or by the forcing by others. So the Chinese fleet back in the days of Zheng He was not for "peaceful round" but for the projection of power as the Chinese have a strong sense of honor and that the Mongols just within about 200 years were driven out shows that the Chinese were trying to save face and recast their image as the superpower of Asian waters.

RWR1911 Author Profile Page:

Comments about China's wisdom about "minding their own business" are off the mark. Until recently China did not project its power because it could not. Modern China's blue navy is a fairly recent phenomenon. The nation also lacks the air lift capabilities that would enable their armed forces to intervene in far flung places.

Furthermore, "minding their own business" to China means letting others do the work (peace keeping, keeping rogue nations in line, etc.)while they concentrate on keeping their forces aimed at threatening Taiwan and at possible local conflicts along their borders. It's not millenial wisdom about foreign interventions so much as pure and simple self-interest.

jiaming Author Profile Page:

Wouldn't the West love it if that's all China wants? the return of Zheng He. After all, with superior naval technology and capability 500 years ago, all she did was made a peaceful round along the coasts of Asia and Africa. Aggression was never part of the agenda. It doesn't fit the logics of the West and that's why Westerners are perplexed. It's completely natural to Chinese thinking though. Just because you have a bigger gun, doesn't mean it is wise to go around beating up or intimidating your neighbors. Let's the Zheng He legacy live on as a reminder to Chinese and the world of the wisdom of minding your own business. Chinese people don't want their country to be a superpower, even if she can be.

SUMB44 Author Profile Page:

So with all these navies patrolling the same area (Russia, China, France, Britain, India, US, etc) how long before a Chinese ship (for example) misfires and hits an American (for example) ship?

Gulf of Tonkin anyone?

observer100 Author Profile Page:

JeffreyChen wrote "...Hardly a (sic) World Power Player Material"

The examples you quote highlight that China is shrewd in its actions. As for its refraining from "pre-emption", recent examples by others illustrate the wisdom of that also.

indo-canuck Author Profile Page:

Ha Ha Ha Rolling our the cannons to kill a fly.
Looks like its pirate hunting season.

So all these expensive "blue water" navies can show their politicians to keep shoveling money to them.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

Not mentioned, three points I believe of interest to the international community:

1. On Tuesday, China said it was "SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING (my emphasis) sending naval ships" to the waters off the Somali coast for escort operations in the near future to fight against rampant piracy in the region.

2. An international naval force is currently deployed off Somalia. China's announcement followed the UN Security Council's adoption of a resolution the same day to further step up the international fight against piracy.

3. Somalia on Wednesday welcomed China's announcement. "As a friend of the Somali people and victim of the piracy menace," China can play a vital role in combating the scourge off Somali waters, said Somalia's Parliament Speaker Sheik Aden Madoobe. "We welcome that China is considering sending its naval force to our coast to help us end the piracy problem."

That can be rightly called “threading lightly”, Chinese style, when it comes to international issues where foreign national sovereignty is involved. I would insist that attitude ought to be compared to what is known as the ox’s demeanour, in the china shop.

JeffreyChen Author Profile Page:

Wanting to be a World Powerhouse, but never want to preempt nor take any actions, always waiting to be pressured to do the right thing.

1) Iran Oil=No UN Nuclear Non Proliferation vote.
2) Sudan Oil=No Condemnation of DARFUR attrocities.
3) North Korea Neighbour=No sufficient pressure to stop them because they were causing havoc to the US(until their lesser kin exploded a nuclear underground device and became a competitor in its own turf)

Hardly a World Power Player Material .

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