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China may send navy to fight piracy

BEIJING, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- China may decide to send its navy to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, following the seizure of two of its vessels last month.

Chinese military strategists are debating the issue with Chinese foreign affairs experts after the idea of deploying the navy was first suggested by Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan of the National Defense University following the seizure of a fishing vessel and a Hong Kong-flag ship with a 25-member crew by Somali pirates, China Daily reported.

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The general told a radio station: "I believe the Chinese navy should send naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties. If one day, the Chinese navy sends ships to deal with pirates, nobody should be shocked."

The China Daily report said military strategists support active deployment, but other scholars feel the government should use caution. Chinese navy ships should go to the Gulf of Aden region "only within the U.N. framework," international relations Prof. Pang Zhongying at Renmin University of China said.

The report said the United Nations has adopted three resolutions since July asking the international community to respond to the piracy problem off Somalia.

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Li Jie, a navy researcher who supports deployment, disagreed with those who say supplying and refueling in the India Ocean may pose challenges. Li said the Chinese navy has proved its capability for such missions.

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