China's People's Liberation Army Navy is sending three powerful modern warships to join the international effort to battle pirates off the coast of Somalia which have attacked numerous ships and asked for $30 million in ransom so far this year. China had 1,265 commercial vessels pass through the gulf waters around Somalia so far this year, and seven ships were attacked by pirates and two crews are still being held by Somalian pirates for ransom. China received the support of the UN for this peacekeeping mission to keep international waters near Somalia safe for commercial shipping and for ocean cruise liners with vacationers.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy forces include two warships armed with missiles, cannons and helicopters as well as a supply ship. 800 sailors and 70 Chinese special forces troops are involved in this international peacekeeping mission and join a fleet of other forces including the U.S., Russia, Britain, Germany, France, India and Iran which have also deployed warships in the region as well. On Thursday, a German warship foiled a group of pirates involved in attacks on international shipping. But so far leaders of the pirates continue to threaten more attacks on international shipping despite a growing international force of peacekeepers that have been experiencing success attacking pirate vessels or capturing pirate crews. However, a number of ship crews of international ships still remain as hostage of pirates as they continue to demand ransom payments.
Part of the difficulty in dealing with Somalia is that it does not have a functioning government. Back in 1991, a coalition of warlords overthrew a dictator, and these warlords have been in control of sectors of this country in deep poverty of around 8 million persons ever since. And the warlords have done little to nothing to stop the pirate attacks, which in some cases may even have their support and blessing.
For the international community, dealing with a rogue state like this with no real government in charge and the lawless nature of the warlords and the pirates presents a major challenge. So far, the international community has largely operated at sea. But some ground forces may be needed in dangerous missions very soon to help free ground crews or to eventually place an operational government in place in Somalia to restore some sense of order.
Both Japan and South Korea, as well as the U.S. continue to be somewhat wary of the recent growth of the powerful Chinese blue-water capable naval ships and their powerful array of weapons. Such modern warships could even be equipped with nuclear warhead anti-ship missiles designed to completely destroy aircraft carriers from a rival navy in the event of a war between powerful naval forces. And this new international mission marks the first time that the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has deployed these modern new warships so far from their waters in what is expected to be at least a three month deployment mission. However, the UN certainly welcomes any new deployment of warships to address this serious pirate threat to international shipping and to the cruise liner industry, many of which ships are of a Liberian registry.
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