Pirates-held hostages finally come home

Updated: 2012-07-25 02:32

By Zhang Yunbi and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing and An Baijie in Ruzhou, Henan province (China Daily)

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Fight against pirates

Xu Fu 1 was just one of a number of vessels seized by Somali pirates.

From January to November, 2008, around 20 percent of Chinese merchant ships passing through the waters were attacked by pirates. A significant amount of China's oil imports from the Middle East passes through, or near, the Gulf of Aden.

Somali pirates can stay out at sea for long periods, with captured merchant vessels as mother ships, and have been using Yemen's remote island of Socotra as a refueling hub.

Small fishing boats, without fixed routes, are hard to trace, and captives from different regions or countries can slow mediation efforts, said Zhou Qing'an, an expert on public diplomacy with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

"Vessels can improve their chances of not being hijacked by upgrading security systems and by fishing in groups, rather than working alone," he said.

Wang, the deputy director, also suggested Chinese fishing boats stay away from dangerous waters.

Chinese naval ships have undertaken anti-piracy operations off Somalia since late 2008, and statistics show that the navy has escorted more than 4,700 ships from countries all over the world.

In early 2010, Beijing also agreed to join a multinational effort to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden and nearby stretches of the Indian Ocean.

Contact the writer at zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn


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