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2015-06 

Chinas role in counter-piracy operations 


Patterson, Ann K. 

Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School 


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NAVAL 

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THESIS 


CHINA’S ROLE IN COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS 

Thesis Advisor: 

by 

Ann K. Patterson 

June 2015 

Christopher Twomey 

Second Reader: 


Tristan Mabry 


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CHINA’S ROLE IN COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS 

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1 13. ABSTRACT 







Piracy threatens commercial shipping passing through major choke points and sea lines of communication in regions such as the 
Gulf of Aden (GOA) and Southeast Asia. Piracy has become a larger security issue in the international community as the number 
of attacks has increased and ransoms have escalated. Countries such as China have become more involved in counter-piracy 
operations; however, China has neither joined the Combined Maritime Forces task force in the GOA to combat piracy nor been 
completely transparent about its maritime strategy in either region. There are varying theories about what is motivating China’s 
behavior. Why is China involved in counter-piracy operations?: This thesis will attempt to answer the question, by comparing and 
contrasting China’s behavior in these two regions. Three possible explanations will be analyzed in an attempt to answer the 
research question. Is China trying to meet the challenges of its rivals and establish a geopolitical position, safeguard its economic 
interests, or cooperate within the international community as a good global citizen? The research reveals that there is some truth to 
all three explanations that help to explain China’s involvement with counter-piracy operations. Therefore, counter-piracy is a 
concern but more so a stepping-stone for a much larger maritime strategy. 

14. SUBJECT TERMS 

China, maritime security, piracy, counter-piracy. Combined Maritime Forces, geopolitical, economics, 
cooperation 

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CHINA’S ROLE IN COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS 


Ann K. Patterson 
Lieutenant, United States Navy 
B.A., The Catholie University of Ameriea, 2006 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of 


MASTER OF ARTS IN SECURITY STUDIES 
(FAR EAST, SOUTHEAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC) 

from the 

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL 
June 2015 


Author: 


Ann K. Patterson 


Approved by: Christopher Twomey 

Thesis Advisor 


Tristan Mabry 
Seeond Reader 


Mohammed M. Hafez 

Chair, Department of National Seeurity Affairs 



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IV 



ABSTRACT 


Piracy threatens commereial shipping passing through major choke points and sea lines 
of eommunication in regions sueh as the Gulf of Aden (GOA) and Southeast Asia. Piracy 
has become a larger security issue in the international community as the number of 
attacks has increased and ransoms have escalated. Countries such as China have beeome 
more involved in counter-piracy operations; however, China has neither joined the 
Combined Maritime Forees task force in the GOA to eombat piracy nor been completely 
transparent about its maritime strategy in either region. There are varying theories about 
what is motivating China’s behavior. Why is China involved in counter-piracy 
operations?: This thesis will attempt to answer the question, by eomparing and 
contrasting China’s behavior in these two regions. Three possible explanations will be 
analyzed in an attempt to answer the research question. Is China trying to meet the 
challenges of its rivals and establish a geopolitieal position, safeguard its economic 
interests, or cooperate within the international community as a good global citizen? The 
research reveals that there is some truth to all three explanations that help to explain 
China’s involvement with eounter-piracy operations. Therefore, counter-piracy is a 
concern but more so a stepping-stone for a mueh larger maritime strategy. 


V 



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VI 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 


L INTRODUCTION.1 

A. DEFINING MARITIME PIRACY.1 

B. A MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTION.1 

C. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION.2 

D. RESEARCH DESIGN.3 

E. LITERATURE REVIEW.4 

1, Meeting the Challenges of Its Rivals and Establishing a 

Geopolitical Position.4 

2, Safeguarding Economic Interests.6 

3, Cooperation, Security, Peace, and to Be a Good Global Citizen.,,. 9 

F. POTENTIAL EXPLANATIONS AND HYPOTHESES.10 

G. THESIS OVERVIEW.11 

II. CHINA AND COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS IN THE GULF OF 

ADEN.13 

A. INTRODUCTION.13 

B. BACKGROUND ON PIRACY IN THE GOA.13 

C. MEET THE CHALLENGES OF ITS RIVALS AND ESTABLISH A 

GEOPOLITICAL POSITION.19 

1. Developing a More Aggressive Approach and Modernizing Its 

Navy.19 

2. Focusing on Objectives Other than Counter-Piracy.24 

3. Participating Passively in Counter-Piracy Operations.28 

D. SAFEGUARDING ECONOMIC INTERESTS.29 

1. Expanding Its Economic Trade by Investing Further West.30 

2. Establishing Diplomatic and Economic Partners in Africa.32 

3. Escorting All Ships to Build Economic Partnerships.35 

E. COOPERATION, PEACE, SECURITY, AND TO BE VIEWED AS A 

GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN.36 

1, Cooperating with Other Navies.37 

2, Participating with Organizations That Fight Piracy.39 

3, Increasing Its Role in Global Society.41 

F. CONCLUSION.43 

III. CHINA AND COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA... 45 

A. INTRODUCTION.45 

B. BACKGROUND ON PIRACY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA.45 

C. MEET THE CHALLENGES OF ITS RIVALS AND ESTABLISH A 

GEOPOLITICAL POSITION.52 

D. SAFEGUARDING ECONOMIC INTERESTS.53 

1. Expanding Its Economic Trade.54 

2, Establishing Diplomatic and Economic Partners in Southeast 

Asia.55 

vii 



































3, Escorting All Ships To Build Economic Partnerships.63 

E. COOPERATION, SECURITY, PEACE, AND TO BE VIEWED AS A 

GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN.64 

1, Cooperating with Other Navies.64 

2, Participating with Organizations That Fight Piracy.66 

3, Increasing Its Role in Global Society.69 

F. CONCLUSION.70 

IV. CONCLUSION.71 

A. INTRODUCTION.71 

B. MAIN FINDINGS.71 

1. Meeting the Challenges of Its Rivals and Estahlishing a 

Geopolitical Position.72 

2. Safeguarding Economic Interests.73 

3, Cooperation, Security, Peace, and to Be Viewed as a Good 

Global Citizen.75 

4, Conclusion.76 

C. CHALLENGES WITH RESEARCH.76 

D. OPTIONS FOR FOLLOW ON RESEARCH.77 

APPENDIX, PLAN ESCORT TASK FORCES TO THE GOA.79 

LIST OF REFERENCES.83 

INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST.97 


viii 





















LIST OF FIGURES 


Figure 1. Successful Pirate Attacks Attributed to Somali Pirates.14 

Figure 2. Overall Successful Pirate Attacks Attributed to Somali Pirates.15 

Figure 3. GOA region.17 

Figure 4. Southeast Asia Region. The arrow indicates the Strait of Malacca and 

Singapore Strait.46 

Figure 5. Successful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by the IMB.49 

Figure 6. Total Number of Successful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by 

the IMB.50 

Figure 7. Successful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by ReCAAP.50 

Figure 8. Total Number of Successful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by 

ReCAAP.51 

Figure 9. Preliminary Map of “one belt and one road”.55 












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X 



LIST OF TABLES 


Table 1. China’s Bilateral Trade With Singapore and Indonesia (US$ Billions).60 

Table 2. PLAN Escort Task Forces to the GOA.79 





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LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 


AMISOM 

African Union’s Mission in Somalia 

ARF 

ASEAN Regional Forum 

ASEAN 

Association for Southeast Asian Nations 

AU 

African Union 

CAFTA 

China-ASEAN Free Trade Area 

CCG 

Chinese Coast Guard 

CCP 

Chinese Communist Party 

CGPCS 

Contact Group on Piracy off Somalia 

CMF 

Combined Maritime Forces 

CMSI 

China Maritime Studies Institute 

CNO 

Chief of Naval Operations 

CTF-151 

Combined Task Force 151 

CUES 

Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea 

ETF 

escort task force 

EU 

European Union 

EUNAVFOR 

European Union Naval Forces 

GDP 

gross domestic product 

GOA 

Gulf of Aden 

HA/DR 

humanitarian assistance and disaster relief 

HACGAM 

Heads of Coast Guards Agencies Meetings 

ICC 

International Chamber of Commerce 

IISS 

Institute for International Strategic Studies 

IMB 

International Maritime Bureau 

IMO 

International Maritime Organization 

INTERPOL 

International Criminal Police Organization 

IRTC 

Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor 

ISC 

Information Sharing Center 

MOOTW 

military operations other than war 

NATO 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization 

NDRC 

National Development and Reform Commission 
xiii 



NTS 

non-traditional security 

PCO 

prospective commanding officers 

PLAN 

People’s Eiberation Army Navy 

ReCAAP 

Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed 
Robbery against Ships in Asia 

RHIB 

rigid-hulled inflatable boats 

RIMPAC 

Rim of the Pacific 

SHADE 

Shared Awareness and Deconfiiction 

SLOC 

sea lines of communication 

SRF 

Silk Road Eund 

SSBN 

ballistic missile submarine 

swos 

Surface Warfare Officer School 

TEU 

twenty-foot equivalent unit 

TSS 

traffic separation scheme 

UN 

United Nations 

UNCEOS 

United Nations Eaw of the Sea 

UNREPS 

underway replenishments at sea 

USD 

U.S. Dollar 


XIV 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 


First and foremost, I would like to thank my advisors, Christopher Twomey and 
Tristan Mabry, for their support and assistance on completing this thesis. I have the 
utmost respect for both of them as professors and academics, and I am immensely 
grateful for their feedback and guidance throughout this process. 

Thanks are also due to all of my professors in the National Security Affairs 
department, particularly Dan Moran, Michael Malley, Naazneen Barma, Alice Miller, 
and Helen Anderson who have all helped to shape my growth and development as a 
graduate student and sparked my interest in this topic. I am fortunate to have had the 
opportunity to study at an institution where there is a significant collection of knowledge 
and talent. I am confident that I will be able to apply the lessons learned not only to 
future research and studies but also, my military career. 

I also owe an immense amount of appreciation to the folks outside of the 
department who have supported me. Thank you to Ken Allen, Chris Sharman, and 
Michelle Pagnani, and Jason Cruz. Also, tha nks to my Naval War College professors, 
specifically Michael McMaster. Without their advice and support, this thesis would not 
have developed into the polished product that it is today. I feel very fortunate to have 
worked with and learned from them. 

It is difficult to thank everyone in the military who has been influential in my 
professional development, but these mentors, and the opportunities that came with them, 
helped me to get to where I am today. 

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my family and friends, whose love 
and support, even from a great distance, means the world to me. Without them, this thesis 
would not be possible. Thanks for encouraging me to follow this dream. 


XV 



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XVI 



I. INTRODUCTION 


A. DEFINING MARITIME PIRACY 

Maritime piracy has been around since man first took to the seas, and it has been 
an ongoing and serious problem all over the worldd This thesis will focus on piracy in 
the Gulf of Aden (GOA) and Southeast Asia region from roughly 2009 until the present 
day. The term piracy has changed over the years, but for the purposes of this research, the 
following definition from Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea 
(UNCLOS) used by the International Maritime Bureau, which is an organization that 
tracks and reports piracy attacks all over the world, will be used; 

Any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, 
committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship 
or a private aircraft, and directed: on the high seas against another ship or 
aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft; 
against a ship, aircraft, persons, or property in a place outside the 
jurisdiction of a State; any act of voluntary participation in the operation 
of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship 
or aircraft. 2 

The nature of the pirate attacks in the two regions vary and will further be 
explained within the body of the thesis to illustrate better the effects of piracy in each of 
these regions. 

B, A MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTION 

Piracy attacks and their threats to international shipping in the GOA and 
Southeast Asia region have made their way into the media due to the increase in the 
number of attacks and the price of the ransoms.^ Consequently, from about 2008 onward. 


^ Angus Konstam, Piracy: The Complete History (Great Britain: Osprey, 2008), 7-8; John C. Payne, 
Piracy Today: Fighting Villainy on the High Seas (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 2010), 4. 

^ ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships: Report for the Period 
1 January-30 September 2014 (London: IMB, 2014), 3. 

3 Bibi van Ginkel and Frans-Paul van der Putten, eds.. The International Response to Somali Piracy: 
Challenges and Opportunities (Leiden, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2010), 1; John C. Payne, Piracy 
Today: Fighting Villainy on the High Seas (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 2010), 7. 


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these attaeks have attraeted interest and elieited a response from the international 
eommunity, ineluding China 

China eollaborates with the eoalition task foree designated speeifieally for 
eounter-piraey in the GOA, Command Task Foree 151 (CTF 151); however, this 
involvement is limited, and China is not an actual member of the Combined Maritime 
Forces (CMF).^ Therefore, this thesis will attempt to answer the overarching question: 
Why is China involved with counter-piracy operations? Other questions considered are as 
follows: Are there rewards and benefits to its participation with the coalition and its 
involvement with the individual operations? How does China’s involvement in the GOA 
compare to its involvement in Southeast Asia where the effects of piracy are closer to 
home? Also, how does piracy tie into China’s overall maritime strategy? 


C. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION 

China’s maritime strategy is an important aspect of this thesis as China has been 
closely monitored in the media partly due to its military expansion, modernization, and 
advances in strategic sea power. China has historically been a continental power rather 
than a maritime power, but since the 1990s has shown great efforts in naval 
modernization.® China has moved the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) towards 
more blue water operations such as counter-piracy since 2008 and has also had an 
increasing presence in not just Southeast Asia but also the GOA.^ China’s rapid buildup 
and increasing presence have raised questions and concerns with the international 
community regarding its strategic maritime intentions. For example, China has sent a 
submarine to assist with counter-piracy operations, which is not a practical vessel for 


^ Van Ginkel and van der Putten, International Response to Somali Piracy, 1; Payne, Piracy Today, 7. 

5 “CTP.J 5 J; Counter-piracy,” Combined Maritime Forces, n.d., http://combinedmaritimeforces.com/ 
ctf-151 -counter-piracy/. 

® Ronald O’Rourke, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — 
Background and Issues for Congress (CRS Report No. RL33153) (Washington, DC: Congressional 
Research Service, 2014), http://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf; Bernard D. Cole, The Great Wall at Sea: 
China’s Navy in the Twenty-First Century, 2nd ed. (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute, 2010), 1. 

^ Mark McDonald, “China Considers Naval Mission against Pirates in Gulf of Aden,” New York 
Times, December 18, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/world/asia/18patrols.html; James R. 
Holmes, “The Commons: Beijing’s ‘Blue National Soil,”’ The Diplomat, January 3, 2013, 
http://thediplomat.eom/2013/01/a-threat-to-the-commons-blue-national-soil/. 


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such operations. Therefore, is China really trying to cooperate and help to eradieate 
piraey, or is piraey just a “stepping-stone” for a mueh larger maritime strategy?^ 

A larger maritime strategy could have implications for existing sea powers sueh 
as the United States. China values protecting its vital sea lines of communieation (SLOC) 
as well as safeguarding its national interests.^ The United States values ensuring freedom 
of navigation as well as supporting its allies.China’s more aggressive movements in 
the Southeast Asia region, for example, to safeguard its territory claims has caused 
regional tensions and begs the question, to what extent will China defend its national 
interests? Furthermore, if China does have a larger maritime strategy, how and where 
does counter-piracy fit into this strategy? 

D. RESEARCH DESIGN 

This thesis will be a comparative study of China’s involvement in eounter-piraey 
operations in both Southeast Asia and the GOA. This thesis seeks to compare and 
contrast China’s behavior in eaeh region in effort to answer the researeh question. These 
regions are important beeause they are two of the most pirated areas in the world. They 
are both ehoke points for major maritime shipping traffic, which affects the global 
economy and countries sueh as China that rely on the sea for trade. 

The following types of sources will be reviewed to clarify the similarities and 
differenees of China’s maritime aetivity: seholarly journals, articles, books, maritime 
studies, news magazines, politieal reviews, and other academie works. Ultimately, the 
objeetive of this researeh is to find information that will help clarify why China is 

^ Li Mingjiang, “China’s Gulf of Aden Expedition: Stepping Stone to East Asia?” RSIS Commentaries, 
January 9, 2009. 

^ The People’s Republic of China, “It. Missions and Strategic Tasks of China’s Armed Forces,” in 
China’s Military Strategy (White Paper), ed. Tao Zhang (Beijing: State Council Information Office, 2015), 
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Press/2015-05/26/content_4586805_2.htm. 

Secretary of the Navy, A Cooperative Strategy for 21" Century Seapower (Washington, DC: 

Author, 2003), 9. 

Konstam, Piracy: The Complete History, 303-10. 

1^ Yoel Guzansky, Jonathan Schachter, and Gallia Lindenstrauss, “Between Piracy and Persia: 
Mounting Threats to Maritime Chokepoints in the Middle East,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, 
September 2011, http://www.fpri.org/articles/2011/09/between-piracy-and-persia-mounting-threats- 
maritime-chokepoints-middle-east. 


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involved with counter-piracy operations. China is generally in the media spotlight, which 
means there is not a shortage of sources on China, and there are a variety of 
interpretations as to the PLAN’S activities. This thesis seeks to consolidate and test the 
major themes throughout the various sources. 

E. LITERATURE REVIEW 

This literature review seeks to summarize and give background on what has been 
written about China’s role in counter-piracy operations, as well as provide the analytical 
framework with which the thesis will seek to fill in the gaps. The sources are organized 
by three predominant themes or possible explanations that will help to identify the 
similarities and differences for a comparative case study, which will ultimately help to 
answer the research question. 

In 1999, China held piracy trials for 38 suspected pirates.Prior to that, China 
had released suspected pirates.This trial suggests that China may have begun to crack 
down on high-seas piracy and project an image that China will no longer be a safe haven 
for pirates. There are many theories as to why China may have moved in a direction to 
get more involved with counter-piracy, and the findings discussed in this literature review 
are shaped around the following possible explanations: meeting the challenges of its 
rivals and establishing a geopolitical position; safeguarding economic interests; and 
finally cooperation, security, peace, and to be viewed as a good global citizen. 

1. Meeting the Challenges of Its Rivals and Establishing a Geopolitical 
Position 

There is quite a bit of literature that discusses China’s maritime strategy as it 
continues to build up and modernize its Navy. China’s rise has caused concern within the 
international community and has led to significant debate regarding its intentions. 
International relations theorist and realist, John Mearsheimer, argues that China’s rise 

“Rare Piracy Trial in China,” New York Times, December 16, 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/ 

12/16/world/rare-piracy-trial-in-china.html. 

14 Ibid. 

15 Ibid. 


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will have an effect on the global balance of power and will not rise peacefully d® Several 
professors of maritime strategy from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, 
such as James Holmes, Toshi Yoshihara, and Lyle Goldstein further discuss the 
contentious rise of China and the impact on U.S-China relations. China becomes more of 
a concern to the realm of maritime security as it surges and asserts sea power in regions 
such as the GOA and is the source of tensions in Southeast Asia.i^ Holmes considers that 
while the United States has been focused on the War on Terrorism and the aftermath of 
9/11, China took advantage of this opportunity and built up a blue water navy.^^ This 
blue water navy, and how it came into focus, presents further debate. Mearsheimer, 
Yoshihara, Holmes, and Bernard Cole, a professor of maritime strategy at National 
Defense University, further assert that China’s rise has been aggressive in nature and 
similar to that of a Mahanian style philosophy of sea power and buildup. Alfred Mahan 
was a Naval Officer in the United States Navy in the nineteenth century and set the 
precedence for the importance of achieving national greatness by obtaining economic 
wealth and building a navy capable of preserving and protecting this wealth, Cole states 
that there are “echoes” of Mahan theories in Chinese discourse regarding its navy and 
maritime objectives. Data gathered from the World Bank; Lisle Rose’s, Power at Sea; 
Holmes and Yoshihara’s. Red Star Over the Pacific; and a study in Foreign Affairs 
provide a comparative case study of China’s rise to that of the U.S. Navy’s rise in effort 
to determine whether China’s rise has been Mahanian in nature. 

Several sources discuss the PLAN’S modernization in terms of capabilities. Ken 
Allen and Chris Sharman, authors for China’s Strategic Perspectives at the Center for 
Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the National Defense University, discuss the 

John J. Mearsheimer, “The Gathering Storm: China’s Challenge to U.S. Power in Asia,” Chinese 
Journal of International Politics 3, no. 4 (2010), 381, doi: 10.1093/cjip/poq016. 

Lyle J. Goldstein, ed.. Not Congruent but Quite Complimentary: U.S. and China’s Approaches to 
Nontraditional Security, no. 9 (Newport, RI: China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College, 
2012 ), 1 . 

James R. Holmes, “The Danger Zone in Naval Arms Races,” The Diplomat, July 3, 2014, 
http://thedipolomat.eom/2014/07/the-danger-zone-in-naval-arms-races/. 

Alfred T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History: 1660-1783, 12th ed. (Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1896), 25-89. 

Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 174, 178. 


5 



importance of logistics and developing capabilities at sea. PLAN ships needed to 
overcome several logistical challenges such as resupplying its ships and learning to 
operate farther and longer away from the mainland in order to successfully conduct 
counter-piracy operations in the GOA.^i Improving logistics is one of the most important 
factors for PLAN’S successful deployments to the GOA .22 There are also many 
discussions regarding China’s intentions to develop bases abroad to help facilitate its 
logistical capabilities. These bases could help to further project sea power and allow 
China to defend its national interests overseas. Even though China refutes this 
assertion, other news sources such as Defense Industry News, Al Jazeera, AllAfrica, and 
The China-Africa Project have claimed that there is evidence that China is establishing 
bases west.^^ These sources seem to suggest that China has objectives other than just 
counter-piracy operations, and furthermore, perhaps counter-piracy operations are an 
opportunity for China to modernize and build up its capabilities. 

2, Safeguarding Economic Interests 

This explanation is distinct from the previous because it discusses China’s 
maritime strategy in terms of its economic interests. Piracy directly and indirectly affects 
the international community because much of the world’s commercial goods are 
transported by sea.25 Therefore, piracy threatens international trade and specifically 


Kenneth Allen and Phillip C. Saunders, PLA Foreign Relations under Xi Jinping: Continuity and/or 
Change? (Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, Institute for National 
Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 2015, forthcoming), 18. 

Christopher H. Sharman, China Moves Out: Stepping Stones Toward a New Maritime Strategy, 
China’s Strategic Perspectives no. 9 (Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, 
Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 2015), 17. 

Bo Zhou, “The String of Pearls and the Maritime Silk Road,” China-US Focus, February 11, 2014, 
http://www.chinausfocus.com/foreign-policy/the-string-of-pearls-and-the-maritime-silk-road/. 

China Military Online, “MND: PLA Has No Overseas Military Base,” People’s Daily Online, 
March 4, 2013, http://en.people.cn/90786/8151577.html; Colin Clark, “China Seeks Djibouti Access; 
Who’s A Hegemon Now,” Breaking Defense, May 12, 2015, http://breakingdefense.eom/2015/05/china- 
seeks-djibouti-access-whos-a-hegemon-now/; Anquan Jiang and Jianbo Zhang, “Djibouti Welcomes China 
to Build a Military Base,” China Africa Project, March 12, 2015, http://www.chinaafricaproject.com/ 
djibouti-welcomes-china-to-build-a-military-base-translation/. 

Robert D. Kaplan, “While U.S. Is Distracted, China develops Sea Power,” Washington Post, 
September 26, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.eom/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/24/ 
AR2010092404767.html. 


6 



threatens eountries sueh as China that relies heavily on the sea for its eommeree. China’s 
economy has been on a steady incline, and much of that has been a result of its maritime 
commerce.26 Researchers from the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) discuss the 
importance of the sea for economic progress for China. China has risen to a maritime 
shipping power, which further demonstrates its growing dependence on maritime 
commerce and the SLOCs .22 Maritime transportation lines have become vital for the 
rapid development of China’s national economy. Christian Le Miere, a senior fellow for 
naval forces and maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, also 
reflects on China’s return to the seas and states in the Asian Pacific Bulletin that 
“growing interests overseas and a far greater reliance on secure shipping routes for its 
export-led economic growth, Beijing once again recognizes the importance of the sea and 
is funneling funds to its navy and maritime agencies accordingly.’’^^ 

Participating in counter-piracy also provides China with other opportunities such 
as expanding its trade and building up diplomatic and economic partnerships throughout 
the GOA and Southeast Asia regions. Many sources such as Defense News, Foreign 
Affairs, The Diplomat, and Xinhua have reported on China’s new Century Maritime 
Silk Road and One Belt and One Road initiatives. These initiatives seek to expand 
trading routes and link economies by both land and sea throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, 
and adjacent seas.29 These initiatives further demonstrate China’s efforts to ensure 
economic growth and prosperity. Moreover, piracy threatens these maritime trade routes 
and seems to provide China with an incentive to protect them. 

China also seems to be benefiting from an increase in trade and the development 
of partnerships with Africa. The China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation white 
paper further addresses the value of this partnership. The White Paper notes that trade, 

26 Christian Le Miere, “Why China’s Return to the Sea May Not Be All Bad,” Asia Pacific Bulletin, 
no. 207 (April 19, 2013), http://www.eastwestcenter.org/sites/default/files/private/apb207.pdf. 

22 Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, No Substitute for Experience, Chinese Antipiracy 
Operations in the Gulf of Aden, China Maritime Study no. 10 (Newport, RI: China Maritime Studies 
Institute, U.S. Naval War College, 2013), 14. 

2^ Le Miere, “China’s Return to the Sea.” 

29 Shaohui Tian, “China Headlines: China’s Belt and Road; Connecting the World,” X/nAwa, March 
28, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2015-03/28/c_134105944.htm. 


7 



investments, and construetion eontraets have inereased signifieantly.^o The Global 
Researcher reported that parts of Afriea were “booming” due to this partnership, and both 
parties are benefiting from the eeonomie progress.Mark Lanteigne, from The Pacific 
Review, stated that participating in counter-piracy operations in the GOA provides China 
with the opportunity to not only add Somalia to its expanding list of African diplomatic 
partners but also, attempt to demonstrate that it is committed to developing its strategic 
maritime capabilities to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.32 

China’s economic relationship with Association of Southeast Asian Nations 
(ASEAN) has also been a reoccurring theme. These sources reveal that China is working 
to strengthen its economic partnership with ASEAN. News Bank and China Daily discuss 
China’s economic partnership with ASEAN to examine their economic cooperation. Due 
to the establishment of free trade areas and a buildup of bilateral trade, ASEAN has 
become one of China’s top trading partners.To further evaluate China’s economic 
partnerships in the region, sources such as World Bank and the International Trade 
Centre provide data to calculate the bilateral trade with China and its economic partners 
to help assess the level of economic interdependence. Evaluating economic 
interdependence along with bilateral maritime cooperation may reveal a correlation 
between economics and security issues. 

These sources suggest that economics is an important motivator for China. 
China’s economic interests seem to vary between the regions, “increasing” in Africa 
versus “strengthening” in Southeast Asia, which may further explain its involvement with 
counter-piracy operations. China, therefore, may be involved with counter-piracy more 
for the sake of its own best interests. 

3*^ The People’s Republic of China, China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation (White Paper) 
(Beijing: Information Office of the State Council, 2013), 5. 

Jason McLure, “Booming Africa: Is an East Asia-Style Boom under Way?” Global Researcher 6, 
no. 22 (November 20, 2012), 521, http://www.sagepub.com/sageEdge/chambliss/files/pdf/cq_141abor.pdf 

Mark Lanteigne, “Fire over Water: China’s Strategic Engagement of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden 
Cr\%\%T Pacific Review 26, no. 3 (March 8, 2013), 289-312, doi: 10.1080/09512748.2012.759265. 

“China-ASEAN Cooperation: 1991-2011,” China Daily, November 16, 2011, 
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-1 l/16/content_14101968.htm; Wang Mengjie, “China Eyes 
Upgraded China-ASEAN VTA,''Xinhua, September 16, 2014, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/ 
2014-09/16/c_l 33647861 .htm. 


8 



3. Cooperation, Security, Peace, and to Be a Good Global Citizen 

This section is in contrast to the first explanation because there are sources that 
support that China is trying to cooperate and strengthen its ties with the international 
community. There are sources that suggest that exercises at sea such as counter-piracy are 
an opportunity for international maritime security cooperation. In their book, The 
International Response to Somali Piracy, Bibi Van Ginkel and Frans-Paul van der Putten 
note that cooperation can be built on common security interests such as combating piracy 
and protecting the international shipping lanes. Cooperation is especially useful in 
regions such as the GOA and Southeast Asia where there is a large volume of traffic and, 
as a result, the risk of pirate attacks are also numerous. 

Many media sources, as well as journal articles, provide evidence that show that 
China is making a commitment to cooperation. For example. World Politics Review 
reported that China agreed on a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with 
several other countries including the United States. The purpose of CUES is to have an 
agreed upon standard of safety at sea, basic communication, and cooperation. ^6 
According to China Military Online, a website run by the PEA, China’s agreement on 
CUES shows that China wants to be a good global citizen and promote trust among 
international navies.^^ China has also increased bilateral and multilateral counter-piracy 
exercises with various navies. Both The Navy Times and China Military Online reported 
that the PEAN participated in the multilateral international exercise Rim of the Pacific 
(RIMPAC), which helps multiple navies to understand one another better.38 Better 

Bibi van Ginkel and Frans-Paul van der Putten, “Challenges and Opportunities,” in The 
International Response to Somali Piracy: Challenges and Opportunities, ed. Bibi van Ginkel and Frans- 
Paul van der Putten (Leiden, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2010), 182. 

Eric Auner, “New Western Pacific Naval Code Aims to Establish Norms at Sea,” World Politics 
Review, April 25, 2014, http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/13733/new-westem-pacific-naval- 
code-aims-to-establish-norms-at-sea. 

36 Ibid. 

33 Ibid. 

3^ Audrey McAvoy, “China Joins Counter-Piracy Part of Hawaii Drills,” Navy Times, July 17, 2014, 
http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140717/NEWS03/307170047/China-joins-counter-piracy-part- 
Hawaii-drills; Zhaohui Dong, “RIMPAC Exercise to Boost China-US Military Relations,” China Military 
Online, July 28, 2014, http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/news-channels/china-military-news/2014- 
07/28/content 6066066.htm. 


9 



communication and better understanding can help in areas like Southeast Asia where 
there are already tensions. 

With a marked rise in coneern over China’s military modernization and its 
motivations, its Defense White Papers have proven to be a rieh source that helps to 
illustrate its intentions on counter-piracy operations and cooperation. In its 2012 Defense 
White Paper, China devotes an entire section to “Safeguarding World Peaee and 
Regional Stability,” in whieh China states that it has supported seeuring SLOCs, 
conducted escort missions, maintained communication and information sharing with 
other navies, and participated with organizations that coordinate to eombat piracy.^^ 
China seems to be dedieated to ensuring that the world knows that cooperation, peace, 
security, and being a eontributing member of the global eommunity is important to them. 

In eonclusion, there is a considerable amount of literature on China and its 
behavior, and many of these sources have conflicting views on China’s motivations for 
participating in counter-piracy operations. This thesis merges all three of the major 
themes in one paper and seeks to analyze and test which one is more accurate. To assess 
the validity of eaeh possible explanation, the literature as well as first-hand experienees 
from the author, who is a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy and has 
deployed to both of these regions, will help to cross-examine what is being reported 
about China’s behavior and what China is aetually doing or not doing in these regions. 

F. POTENTIAL EXPLANATIONS AND HYPOTHESES 

Thirty eountries have stepped up and are currently members of CMF and rotate 
their forces within the GOA to combat piracy.These patrols have proven to be 
successful as the number of attaeks has gone down since 2012.^1 In the Southeast Asia 


The People’s Republic of China (PRC), Ministry of National Defense, “V. Safeguarding World 
Peace and Regional Stability,” in The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces (White Paper), ed. 
Zhaohui Dong (Beijing: Information Office of the State Council, 2013), http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Database/ 
WhitePapers/2013 -04/16/content_4442756.htm. 

Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF-151: Counter-piracy.” 

ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships: Report for the 
Period 1 January—31 December 2013 (London: IMB, 2014), 6. 


10 



region, the littoral states have banned together to patrol jointly in the region.42 Therefore, 
the suppression of piraey would likely eontinue whether China was involved or not. What 
then is China’s interest in fighting piracy and what does it gain? 

The literature review presents three possible explanations as to why China is 
conducting counter-piracy operations. Initially, the economics explanation seems the 
most logical as piracy threatens maritime commerce. It makes sense that China would be 
motivated by economic growth and want to protect its SLOCs and ensure the safety of its 
commerce. China has quickly become one of the largest economies in the world and 
seeks to ensure its economic progress. Sending ships to ensure the safety of its merchants, 
therefore, makes sense. The other two explanations seem like opportunities, but do not 
seem as essential as safeguarding its economic interests. 

China’s foreign policy seems to be shifting, however, towards a country that 
desires to be more involved with the global community. Even though China could benefit 
as a free rider from CTF-151, it continues to provide support and resources to the cause. 
It may not be ready to entwine fully in a mostly western CMF task force where it would 
be subject to their rules and regulations. Counter-piracy operations may also be the 
benchmark in which the PFAN Navy tests its capabilities and explores its strengths and 
weaknesses as it modernizes and develops. Counter-piracy, therefore, may be just one 
piece in a much larger puzzle. China’s involvement with counter-piracy operations is a 
practical step for the PFAN, but not the prime motivator for its maritime strategy. 

G. THESIS OVERVIEW 

The body of this thesis has two main chapters. Chapter II examines China’s role 
in counter-piracy operations in the GOA, and Chapter III assesses its role in Southeast 
Asia. Each chapter will provide background information on the piracy issue in that 
region. The remainder of the chapters are divided into three sections, which are the three 
possible explanations considered in the literature review. Each explanation is further 

42 Yann-Huei Song, “Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI) and Enhancing Security in the 
Straits of Malacca: Littoral States’ and Regional Responses,’’ in Maritime Security in the South China Sea: 
Regional Implications and International Cooperation, ed. Shicun Wu and Keyuan Zou (England: Ashgate, 
2009), 124. 


11 



subdivided into three expectations; these represent what we would assume to see China 
doing if that particular explanation were true. 

The final chapter will be the conclusion. It will analyze the similarities and 
differences of China’s behavior in both regions and conclude with a final explanation for 
why China is involved militarily in counter-piracy operations. The conclusion will also 
propose future research such as, what can the international community expect from the 
PLAN in the future? 


12 



II. CHINA AND COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS IN THE 

GULF OF ADEN 


A, INTRODUCTION 

China’s involvement with eounter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden has 
raised questions among leaders of the international eommunity. This ehapter will first 
provide baekground on the piracy issue in the GOA and then attempt to answer the 
question of why China is involved with counter-piracy operations, examining three 
possible explanations. Is China meeting the challenges of its rivals and establishing a 
geopolitical position, safeguarding its economic interests, or cooperating within the 
international community as a good global citizen? 

B, BACKGROUND ON PIRACY IN THE GOA 

In 2007, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), an organization that 
monitors and tracks pirate activity, declared the GOA a “hotspot” for pirate attacks and 
issued a warning that there had been a marked increase in attacks in the region.43 The 
International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a specialized department of the ICC, reported 2009 
as the year that pirate attacks peaked with 117 attacks.The number of attempted attacks 
or unsuccessful boardings is unknown. However, Figures 1 and 2 depict the successful 
pirate attacks in the region from 2009 until the first quarter (January through March) of 
2015. At the height of the piracy outbreak, the Combined Maritime Forces, a multi¬ 
national naval partnership that exists to provide security and stability throughout the 
Middle East and the Horn of Africa region, established a task force specifically 
designated for counter-piracy operations called Combined Task Force 151.^^ Piracy in 
the region has been pacified since about 2012, as illustrated in Figure 1, due to the 
combined efforts of the 30 countries that contribute to CMF and counter-piracy 

The ICC is an independent international organization that is not part of the United Nations. Piracy: 
The Complete History, 303. 

ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy Report 2013, 5. 

The Horn of Africa is the peninsula region along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden that juts into 
the Arabian Sea. Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF-151: Counter-piracy.” 


13 



operationsThe following graph represents the number of sueeessful pirate attacks 
caused specifically by Somali pirates. 



Figure 1. Successful Pirate Attacks Attributed to Somali Pirates^^ 


Figure 2 represents the total number of attacks overall for each data set from 
Figure 1. 


“Combined Maritime Forces,” Combined Maritime Forces, n.d., 
http://combinedmaritimeforces.com/about/. 

ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy Report 2013, 5; ICC International Maritime Bureau, 
Piracy Report 2014, 5; ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships: 
Report for the Period 1 January—31 March 2015 (London: IMB, 2015), 5. 


14 

























Figure 2. Overall Successful Pirate Attacks Attributed to Somali Pirates'^^ 


Maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia has been caused by various factors. 
Regional grievances have played a major role. Somali pirates justify their actions by 
noting that those who are illegally fishing and dumping of waste in their waters have 
hindered their ability to fish, which is their livelihood.^^ The pirates have been collecting 
ransoms, and defining them as taxes, for the many years that ships have poached fish in 
Somali waters.Furthermore, the CMF offered an additional explanation; “The rise of 
piracy in the region can be directly linked with the fall of the stable government and 
breakdown of law and order in Somalia in 1991. Gangs formed under local clan loyalty 
and warlord leadership and developed into the piracy groups of today.More men 
turned to piracy as order in Somalia continued to decline, and as ransoms escalated, 
piracy shifted into an organized enterprise.Relative economic deprivation as a result of 
the growing global economy could also have contributed to Somali piracy. Globalization 

ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy Report 2013; ICC International Maritime Bureau, 

Piracy Report 2014; ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy Report 2015. 

Denise Russell, Who Rules the Waves? Piracy, Overfishing and Mining the Oceans (London; Pluto 
Press, 2010), 69. 

Payne, Piracy Today, 94. 

Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF-151: Counter Piracy.” 

Van Ginkel and van der Putten, International Response to Somali Piracy, 7. 


15 




















has caused widespread eeonomie growth throughout the world; however, there are 
eountries that have neither benefitted from nor been able to keep up with this 
development. Somalia is a “Fragile State”—^whieh is a new term as of 2014—soeially, 
politieally, and eeonomioally as illustrated by the six years that it was ranked first on the 
“Failed States Index List” from 2008 to 2014.^3 

Over this period, it beeame “business as usual” for the Somali pirates to prey on 
passing merehant ships traveling along major sea eorridors, stealing goods, and holding 
people and ships for ransom for millions of dollars.Piracy in the GOA began attracting 
worldwide attention around 2008 when the number of attacks increased due to rising 
ransom payments.The World Bank announeed that between 2005 and 2013, Somali 
pirates in the GOA eolleeted between 339 million (USD) and 413 million (USD) in 
ransoms from the hijaeking of ships. 

Areas that the pirates threaten sueh as the GOA, Bal el Mandeb, and Strait of 
Hormuz are ehoke points for major eommereial shipping. Figure 1 illustrates a map of 
these ehokepoints. These shipping lanes are eritieal for trade. For example, 20 pereent of 
global traded goods transit through the GOA.^^ Almost 95 pereent of the European 
Union’s (EU’s) trade is seaborne and passes through this region.^^ Some 70 pereent of 
the world’s oil traffic and 50 percent of global container traffic also flow through this 
region.59 piracy, therefore, has an impaet on the global eeonomie system. The World 

J. J. Messner, “Failed States Index 2014: Somalia Displaced as Most-Fragile State,” Fund For 
Peace, June 24, 2014, http://library.fundforpeace.org/fsil4-overview. 

“Fighting Piracy in Somalia,” New York Times, April 17, 2009, http://www.nytimes.eom/2009/04/ 

17/opinion/l 7iht-edpirates.html?pagewanted=print. 

Van Ginkel and van der Putten, International Response to Somali Piracy, 1; Payne, Piracy Today, 

1 . 

56 ‘“Pirate Trails’ Tracks Dirty Money Resulting from Piracy off the Horn of Africa,” The World 
Bank, November 1, 2013, http://www.worldbank.Org/en/news/press-release/2013/l 1/01/pirate-trails-tracks- 
dirty-money-resulting-ffom-piracy-off-the-hom-of-africa. 

“About MSCHOA and OP ATALANTA,” Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), 
n.d., http://www.mschoa.org/on-shore/about-us. 

58 Ibid. 

59 Per Gullestrup and May-Britt U. Stumbaum, “Coping With Piracy: The European Union and the 
Shipping Industry,” in The International Response to Somali Piracy: Challenges and Opportunities, eds. 
Bibi van Ginkel and Frans-Paul van der Putten (Leiden, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 2010), 108. 


16 



Bank reported that between 2006 and 2010, Somali piracy was a “major force disrupting 
world trade.”®® During that time, trade flow loss was 7.4 percent, and trade costs 
increased by an average of 1.1 percent for a trading country.®^ Overall, it was estimated 
that piracy-related costs on global trade were averaged around 18 billion (USD) 
annually.®^ Figure 3 highlights the Strait of Hormuz and Bab el Mandeb chokepoints. 


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For merchant ships to safely pass through pirated areas, other costs began to 
accumulate. The countries and shipping industries had to pay to take steps to protect the 
vessels. More money was spent on fuel so that the ships could speed up through the 
region. Bloomberg reported in 2012 that ships were paying upwards to 2.7 billion (USD) 


®® The World Bank, Regional Vice-Presidency for Africa, The Pirates of Somalia: Ending the Threat, 
Rebuilding a Nation (Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World 
Bank, 2013), 27. 

®1 Ibid., 24. 

®2 Ibid., 25. 


17 





for additional fuel costs.Governments were spending 1.27 billion (USD) on military 
operations, and ship owners were paying 1.15 billion (USD) on armed guards and 
security equipment. Rerouting was also an expensive option. Rerouting costs would 
require more time at sea and would consequently cost more than 680 million (USD) in 
shipping costs, thus causing owners to pay roughly 635 million (USD) in insurance 
premiums.®^ The ship’s crew would also require additional payment for longer sea 
time.®® Crews were often paid twice as much as a usual paycheck to sail through the 
GOA region, adding an estimated 195 million dollars in labor costs.®^ Owners and 
operators of the merchant vessels spent about 37,000 (USD) a year on security equipment 
such as barbed wire, additional fire hoses, and electric barriers for ships.®^ 

It makes sense, therefore, for a country such as China that relies heavily on the 
sea for its trade and economy to take an interest in the issue of piracy. China sent its first 
escort task force (ETF) to the GOA on a mission to combat Somali pirates in December 
2008.^^ Since then, China has sent a total of 20 ETFs to the GOA region with its most 
recent voyage beginning on April 3, 2015, and has kept a three-ship presence (of which 
one is a supply vessel) to protect shipping and to engage in counter-piracy operations.^*’ 
See Annex A for a list of ETFs to the GOA region.^’ China is consistently deploying task 
forces to protect its interests, but its behavior in the GOA may suggest that it has other 
motivations beyond just counter-piracy operations. 


®^ Michelle Wiese Bockmann, “Somali Pirates Cost $6.9 Billion as Attacks Reach Record,” 
Bloomberg, February 8, 2012, http://www.bloomberg.eom/news/articles/2012-02-08/piracy-costing-6-9- 
billion-as-attacks-off-somalia-s-coast-climb-to-record. 

®4 Ibid. 

®® Ibid. 

®® Ibid. 

®7 Ibid. 

®8 Ibid. 

®^ Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 1. 

Allen and Saunders, PLA Foreign Relations, 17; “New Navy Escort Fleet Leave for Gulf of Aden,” 
Xinhua, April 3, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2015-04/03/c_134123383.htm; Office of the 
Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the 
People’s Republic of China 2014 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2014), 37. 

Allen and Saunders, PLA Foreign Relations, 76-78. 


18 



C. MEET THE CHALLENGES OF ITS RIVALS AND ESTABLISH A 

GEOPOLITICAL POSITION 

This section examines one possibility, that China is operating in the GOA and 
conducting counter-piracy operations to meet the challenges of its rivals, especially the 
United States, and to establish a geopolitical position. If this explanation is accurate, then 
the expectations for China’s actions in Southeast Asia are that it may be developing a 
more aggressive approach and modernizing its navy to operate in the far seas, focusing 
on objectives other than just counter-piracy operations, and operating in the area but 
generally being passive towards counter-piracy operations. 

1. Developing a More Aggressive Approach and Modernizing Its Navy 

Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as well as 
many theorists and news sources around the world, have touched on the fragility of U.S.- 
China relations. The relationship has been difficult even in the best of times, but as 
China’s navy and economy continue to grow, China is becoming more of a concern to the 
United States and to the realm of maritime security.John Mearsheimer, an international 
relations theorist, noted, “The rise of China is having a significant effect on the global 
balance of power. In particular, the power gap between China and the United States is 
shrinking and in all likelihood ‘U.S. strategic primacy’...will be no more.”^^ James 
Holmes, who is a professor at the Naval War College and a writer for The Diplomat, 
supports Mearsheimer’s argument by referring to the power struggle between the United 
States and China as a “danger zone.”^"^ The “danger zone” denotes that while the United 
States has been distracted with issues in the Middle East and the War on Terror post-9/11, 
China has taken the opportunity to build up its Navy.^^ Also, similar to the Royal Navy, 
the German Navy, and the United States Navy in the past, China too is seeking to rival its 
competitors at sea and “keep up with the Joneses. 

Goldstein, Not Congruent but Quite Complimentary, 1. 

Mearsheimer, “Gathering Storm,” 381. 

Holmes, “Danger Zone.” 

Ibid. 

Ibid. 


19 



China may be adopting an aggressive Mahanian philosophy of sea eontrol and 
building up its naval forees to beeome a global maritime power. In the early twentieth 
eentury, Alfred Mahan showed the United States the way to turn to the seas for eeonomie 
progress and to preserve and proteet its expanding interests by building up a powerful 
fleet.^^ Using the U.S. Navy as the benehmark for a Mahanian model, the following ease 
study will analyze the buildup of PLAN eompared to the rise of the U.S. Navy and assess 
whether China is building a blue water navy to ehallenge its rivals and to establish a 
geopolitieal position. 

Mahan eneouraged the United States to build up at a time when the industrial 
revolution provided a flourish of trade opportunities and provided the ability to develop 
newer technology such as steel ships and steam ships.Also, there were tensions rising 
in the world at this time because many imperial navies such as the Royal Navy were also 
taking advantage of the growing global economy and protecting their colonies. Mahan 
emphasized vigorous foreign policy, that a country’s options were either national 
expansion or national death, and that the means to greatness was the sea.^^ To guarantee 
this greatness, a country needed to increase its wealth. Then to protect its wealth and its 
national power, a country needed to build up a defensive force capable of ensuring access 
to its wealth. Mahan understood the connection between national prestige and being able 
to control the seas, and he put emphasis on the role of the Navy to preserve commercial 
success and domestic well-being. Mahan’s idea of sea control is that whoever controls 
the sea lines of communication controls the trade of the world and the economic 
foundations of military power.^i The people who helped to put Mahan’s philosophy into 
action and increase U.S. naval power were Theodore Roosevelt and the Secretary of the 


Lisle A. Rose, Power a? 5ea.- TheAgeofNavalism, 1890-1918, yoI. 1 (Columbia, MI: University of 
Missouri Press, 2007), 14. 

Ibid., 7. 

79 Ibid., 2. 

80 Ibid. 

81 Alfred T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power upon History: 1660-1783, 12th ed. (Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1896), 25-89. 


20 



Navy at the time, Benjamin Terry. Before 1879, the U.S. Navy was inferior to even the 
Chilean Navy, but between 1890 and 1908, the U.S Navy amplified its fleet with bigger 
and more modern battleships, cruisers, and other steel hull ships. it quickly became the 
second most capable navy behind the Royal Navy and surpassed them by the end of the 
Second World War.^4 model of global sea power projection has shaped the behavior 
of the U.S Navy and has remained its underpinning philosophy since its rise at the end of 
the nineteenth century. 

The Mahanian philosophy also seems to have made its way into Chinese 
discourse regarding its Navy. Bernard Cole, a former U.S. Naval officer and a professor 
of Sino-American relations and maritime strategy at the National Defense University, 
stated in The Great Wall At Sea that there are echoes of Mahan theories that appear in the 
strategic thoughts of Liu Huaqing, once a commander of PLAN from 1982-1988, vice 
chairman of the Central Military Commission, and member of the Chinese Communist 
Party’s Standing Committee, and the “architect” for China’s maritime strategy of 
“offshore defense” that emerged in the 1980s.”^^ Liu has been deemed “father of the 
modern Chinese Navy” and “China’s Mahan.”^^ Liu put an emphasis on mobilizing 
China’s maritime defenses seaward and on becoming a global force by 2050.^^ In 2006, 
Liu’s words further resonated in a statement by Chinese President Hu Jintao who told 
PLAN officers that China strives to build a powerful navy that will uphold its historical 
mission in a new century and that will defend China’s interests at any time.^^ Liu and 
Hu’s words appear to be more than rhetoric as China seems determined to turn to the sea, 
which is evident by its economic progress and its successful deployments beyond its near 
seas and to the far seas such as the GOA. 

Rose, Power at Sea, 2. 

83 Ibid., 14-15. 

84 Ibid. 

83 Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 174, 178. 

86 Daniel Hartnett, “The Father of the Modem Chinese Navy—Liu Huaqing,” Center for International 
Maritime Security, October 8, 2014, http://cimsec.org/father-modem-chinese-navy-liu-huaqing/13291. 

8"^ Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 176. 

88 Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes, Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to 
U.S. Maritime Strategy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2010), 1. 

21 



A Foreign Policy article developed a eomparison of the rise of China to that of 
other world powers at the time of their rise using data sueh as GDP, trade, and military 
spending from the World Bank. China’s eeonomie footprint is eomparable to that of the 
United States.In 1900, the U.S. share of global GDP was 15.9 pereent, while China 
currently aecounts for 14.6 pereent.^o However, China’s share of global eommeree is 
about one pereent higher than the United States’ at its rise.^i Furthermore, China has 
expanded its share of world GDP faster than any other rising eountry ineluding the 
United States.^^ 1982, China aeeounted for 2.2 percent of global output, but by 2012 
had produeed 14.6 pereent of the world’s GDP.93 The United States started at a higher 
share but still only doubled its share of global output during its rise.^^ China’s share of 
global trade has also inereased faster. At the beginning of China’s rise, it only accounted 
for 0.6 pereent of the world’s eommeree but experieneed a sharp ineline of more than 22 
percent, while the United States was at 9.3 pereent and maintained a steady rise.^^ 

China’s military spending inereased but not quite as sharply as its GDP and trade. 
China has beeome the seeond largest military spender in the world following the United 
States.^® China’s military spending is generally on the rise: 12.7 pereent in 2011, 11.2 
pereent in 2012, 10.7 pereent in 2013, 12.2 pereent in 2014, and so far for 2015, China 
has announeed a 10.1 pereent rise to its national budget, whieh will raise the defense 
budget to 144.2 billion (USD) (886.9 billion yuan).^^ Where China’s military spending 
has continued on a steady incline throughout its rise, the United States has more volatile 
statistics. The ups and downs were eaused by disparities in government polieies that 

Daniel M. Kliman, “Is China the Fastest-Rising Power in History?” Foreign Policy, May 16, 2014, 
http://foreignpolicy.eom/2014/05/16/is-china-the-fastest-rising-power-in-history/#_. 

90 Ibid. 

91 Ibid. 

92 Ibid. 

93 Ibid. 

94 Ibid. 

95 Ibid. 

90 Bo Xiang, “China Focus: China 2015 Defense Budget To Grow 10.1 pet. Lowest in 5 Years, 

Xinhua, March 5, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2015-03/05/c_134040390.htm. 

92 Ibid. 


22 



caused variations in defense spending, whieh is something China does not neeessarily 
deal with sinee it is a one-party government system. Wars and eonfliets also had an effeet 
on U.S. military spending at the time of its rise. World War II, speoifieally, eaused both a 
dramatie spike and a rapid deeline in defense spending as the U.S government sealed 
baek the size of its fleet. In eontrast, China has not faeed major world wars during its rise 
and remains on a steady ineline. The evidenee from this study helps to illustrate that 
China has risen faster and perhaps more aggressively than the United States, but not yet 
farther.98 The United States experieneed a rise in GDP, trade, and military spending over 
time, whieh faetored into its rise as a maritime power. Inereases in GDP, trade, and 
military spending have afforded China the opportunity to modernize its eapabilities, 
perhaps not exaetly in the same way, but China may be hoping that the end result is the 
same. In other words, China seems to be working to meet the ehallenges of its rivals as it 
eontinues to rise to be a sea power. The PLAN’S eapabilities do not yet mateh those of 
the United States, but China eontinues to develop a more modem navy with various 
elasses of submarines for example, and reeently there have been hints of nuelear ballistie 
missile submarines (SSBNs) on the horizon.99 It seems as if, in tme Mahanian fashion, 
China is building a navy eapable of proteeting its national interests. 

If China is establishing a Mahanian fashion, the presenee of China’s blue water 
navy also helps to support the idea that China is ehallenging its rivals and establishing a 
geopolitieal position in the GOA. Aeeording to one study, it is China’s reeent surge of 
sea power to the GOA and China’s blue water plan that will ehallenge the hegemony of 
the United States on the high seas.^*’*’ A researeher elosely followed artieles posted in a 
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) newspaper. People’s Daily, over the past five years, 
and he noted that China’s message has remained elear and eonstant that the United States 
is the target and the reason for a blue water navy.^*’^ This researeher’s assessment also 
supports the notion that China is applying of a Mahanian theory of sea power. The 

Kliman, “Is China the Fastest-Rising Power?” 

Lyle Goldstein, “Emerging From The Shadows,” Proceedings 141, no. 4/1,346 (April 2015), 30-34. 

100 Henry Holst, “Blue Means Blue: China’s Naval Ambitions,” The Diplomat, January 7, 2014, 
http ://thediplomat. com/2014/01 /blue-means-blue-chinas-naval-ambitions/. 

101 Ibid. 


23 



research further aligns with that of Cole, who noted that China is building up its 
“maritime great wall” in a world where hegemonism and power politics manifest and that 
“a major sea power incapable of defending its sea territorial rights will not be a major sea 
power for very long.”1*^2 a Mahanian philosophy, therefore, seems to be the 
underpinning of China’s blue water navy, which can defend its national interests. Even 
though the PLAN is asymmetrical in overall capability to the United States, its 
capabilities are developing and its behavior seems to match an aggressive Mahanian style 
similar to that of the United States. Moreover, counter-piracy operations in the GOA may 
be the means that provide China with the opportunity to prove that it is no less capable 
than any other navy or, as Cole noted, “demonstrate China’s maturing view of naval 
power as guardian of global economic interests.”1*^3 

2. Focusing on Objectives Other than Counter-Piracy 

Another possibility is that China is using the piracy mission for something other 
than its purported aim. China is sending impractical vessels to conduct counter-piracy 
operations, demonstrating that piracy is not the only reason why it is operating in the 
GOA. Moreover, China is using this opportunity to sharpen its logistical abilities, 
allowing it to respond to various challenges, threats, and operations. 

China released information in September 2014 that it sent a fast attack diesel 
submarine to the GOA to assist with counter-piracy operations.^'’"^According to a Western 
analysis in USNI News, the “ambitious trek to the Gulf of Aden is a test of the logistics 
needed to operate its submarines further afield.”^*’^ China claims, however, that it is 
expanding its naval arsenal to assist with counter-piracy operations and that submarines 


Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 9-10. 

103 Ibid., 188. 

104 Sam LaGrone, “Chinese Submarine Headed to Gulf of Aden for Counter Piracy Operations,” USNI 
News, September 30, 2014, http://news.usni.org/2014/09/30/chinese-submarine-headed-guif-aden-counter- 
piracy-operations. Sam LaGrone is the USNI online editor for the U.S. Naval Institute. He was formerly the 
U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington, D.C., bureau of Jane’s Defense Weekly and Jane’s Navy 
International. 

103 LaGrone, “Chinese Submarine Headed to Gulf of Aden.” 


24 



will continue to play a role in escort missions, That said, it makes more sense to argue 
that China is using vessels sueh as a submarine for more expansive purposes rather than 
for counter-piraey operations. 

Submarines are not used for nor are they a praetieal vessel for eounter-piraey 
operations.!*'^ Submarines are meant to operate remotely, independently, and disereetly 
for sueh operations as reeonnaissanee or Speeial Forees insertion. Generally, a destroyer, 
frigate, or patrol eraft is the appropriate size for eounter-piraey operations. Vessels of this 
size are eapable of exeeuting high-speed ehases as well as quiek maneuvering taeties. 
Counter-piraey operations entail boarding the pirate vessel to extraet weapons, 
eonfiscating tools sueh as hooks and ladders, and gaining biometrics on the pirates for 
data eolleetion. Submarines are limited in all of these capaeities. Submarines also are 
unable to transport organie assets such as helicopters, which assist with surveillance and 
proteetion of the boarding team, or small rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), whieh 
deploy the boarding teams. Ships generally deploy with at least two helieopters and two 
to three RHIBs. Therefore, eounter-piraey operations would be very ehallenging for 
submarines since they do not transit with the proper resources for sueh missions. 

Though China stated that its submarines ean assist with eseort missions in the 
GOA, submarines are also not appropriate for sueh missions. If the ships in the eseort 
mission were to eneounter a pirate attaek, it would be very ehallenging for the submarine 
to eommunieate maneuvering intentions if the ships eannot see the submarine or traee it 
on their radars. Furthermore, deterring or breaking up the attaek would be diffieult. A 
ship usually stations itself about 500-1000 yards from the pirate vessel, notifies the 
pirates over a loud speaker from the bridge-wing that they will be boarded, and provides 
directions for the erew to move to the front of the ship in preparation for the boarding 
team. The ship then stays within elose range of the pirate vessel to monitor the pirates 
and to ensure the safety of the boarding team while the boarding team searehes the vessel. 

“Getting Close to a Submarine Detachment of the PLA Navy,” People’s Daily Online, May 7, 
2015, Open Source Center CHR2015050822447066. 

This information is based on personal experience by the author, who is a United States Navy 
Surface Warfare Officer and has conducted several counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden on 
multiple deployments as well as conducted operations with several coalition warships. 


25 



At the same time, a ship’s helicopter detachment is almost always flying overhead to 
provide additional support and to survey the area for other pirate vessels. All of these 
actions are outside of a submarine’s purview. The goal of counter-piracy vessels are to 
disrupt piracy by establishing a visible footprint in the area and to offer guidance to 
passing merchants on how to prevent pirate attacks.!*'^ China’s three-ship presence along 
with the coalition forces from CTF-151 have proven sufficient for counter-piracy 
operations in the region, which is evident by the significant decrease in attacks since 
2012. Refer back to Figure 1 for the trend in pirate attacks. Therefore, this example helps 
to illustrate that if China continues to send more vessels for counter-piracy operations, 
specifically impractical ones, perhaps it has additional focuses in the region. 

China has demonstrated that its intent may be beyond counter-piracy operations 
and that it may be focused on expanding its logistical capabilities. Andrew Erickson, a 
professor in the strategic research department at the Naval War College and a core 
member of the department’s China Maritime Studies Institute, stated that far seas piracy 
patrols have provided the opportunity for “bridging the gap between development and 
operational capability.”i*'9 other words, China may view counter-piracy as one way to 
expand its modernized blue water navy and to develop its far seas capabilities. 

Operating in the GOA provides China the opportunity to stretch its sea legs and 
discover what it takes logistically to deploy to regions that far away. To effectively 
operate in the GOA, which would require more time spent at sea transiting as well as 
patrolling, the PLAN first needed to overcome many logistical challenges. These 
included resupplying ships at sea and on shore, ensuring the health and safety of the 
crew, providing food and water, and operating farther away from home for longer periods 
of time.ii*' Over the past six and a half years, the PLAN has become more proficient at 
underway replenishments at sea (UNREPS), intra-task force resupply, long-distance 
navigation, and operations in various weather conditions. ^ The PLAN also seems to 

Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF-151: Counter-piracy.” 

Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 30. 

Sharman, China Moves Out, 17. 

Ill Ibid., 17, 36. 


26 



have successfully established a command and control element at sea that includes a 
command group, a political works group, a logistics group, and an equipment group. 112 
Improving logistical capabilities is one of the more important requirements for 
successfully executing missions in the far seas.^^^ The far seas missions provide PLAN 
the opportunity to gain experience, confidence, and proficiency to manage its forces 
abroad. The fact that China seems to be taking advantage of this opportunity suggests that 
its presence in the GOA may be motivated by more than just safeguarding its merchant 
vessels from pirates. 

In addition, sources suggest that China has been utilizing ports in other countries 
to assist with resupplying its task forces. These ports seem to be used primarily for 
replenishing supplies or for visiting, but there is speculation that China may be 
establishing its own facilities in other countries abroad. The “String of Pearls” is a 
concept that was developed by a defense contractor named Booz Allen in 2005, who 
alleged that China was developing bases, or “pearls,” stretching from China to the Middle 
East to project its sea power and to protect its oil shipments. China, however, refutes 
this idea. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense stated that China 
currently possesses no overseas military bases, and the notion that there is a Chinese 
“String of Pearls” strategy is “totally groundless.”^!® 

Despite China’s claims, however, several news reports indicate that the country is 
establishing bases in the far seas. The Defense Industry News reports, “China is pushing 
hard for either special port access or basing rights in the former French colony of 
Djibouti, a key center where U.S. and French special forces operate.”!!^ The source for 
this statement came from an interview with Djibouti’s President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, 
who revealed the information to the French Press. It is interesting that media sources such 

! Allen and Saunders, PLA Foreign Relations, 18. 

Sharman, China Moves Out, 17. 

! Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, no page number, at the beginning of 
document. 

!Zhou, “String of Pearls.” 

!!® China Military Online, “PLA Has No Overseas Military Base.” 

! Clark, “China Seeks Djibouti Access.” 


27 



as Arab World News, Al Jazeera, AllAfrica, and several U.S. news sourees all reported 
the same story on Mareh 12, 2015, but this news did not broadcast in Chinese media until 
March 13. The Ministry of National Defense of The People’s Republic of China website 
and The China Africa Project both posted articles. The language between these two 
articles also differs. The China Africa Project stated, “Djibouti welcomes China to build 
a military base.”! The Ministry of National Defense of The People’s Republic of China 
was more vague and posted that the Ministry neither confirms nor denies the allegations 
of establishing a military base in Djibouti, All of the articles on this event were vague 
about the specific uses of the base, but the PRC Defense Ministry did state, “Had we had 
proper facilities nearby, our naval vessels on anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden 
would not have had to suspend regular patrols only to withdraw Chinese nationals from 
war-torn Yemen.”1^0 These articles suggest that China seeks to project power and to 
maintain a sustained presence in the far seas. This evidence also demonstrates that 
counter-piracy operations may be an effective channel to justify the establishment of 
logistics lines that will allow China to not only sustain a presence in the region but also to 
continue to build up its forces and to respond to various challenges, threats, and 
operations. 


3. Participating Passively in Counter-Piracy Operations 

If it is true that China is establishing a geopolitical position in the region, we can 
also expect that its participation with other navies that are conducting counter-piracy 
operations is limited. In other words, perhaps because China is focused on other 
objectives, counter-piracy may not be its primary mission. China has not become a 
member of the CMF, nor shown any intention to do so in the near future, but remains an 
independent deployer in the region.Furthermore, the PLAN ETFs also do not operate 
in conjunction with the coalition task force. In an effort to assist merchant traffic and to 

Jiang and Zhang, “Djibouti Welcomes China.” 

1Jianing Yao, “Defensive Arm Now Needs to be Extended,” China Daily, May 13, 2015, 
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Opinion/2015-05/13/content_4584777.htm. 

120 Ibid. 

121 Combined Maritime Forces, “CTF-151: Counter-piracy.” 


28 



protect ships from pirate attacks, the coalition forces patrol inside the Internationally 
Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The IRTC acts as a traffic separation scheme 
(TSS), which are navigation lanes designed to facilitate the direction and flow of shipping 
traffic. A largely congested area such as the GOA, where traffic funnels down to a choke 
point, is generally where a TSS is located to help prevent collisions at sea. The IRTC 
helps to keep the ships together to make it more difficult for pirates to isolate them. 
Within the IRTC, coalition ships are able to monitor the merchant ships passing by, to 
communicate with them, and to respond to potential threats and attacks. PLAN ships are 
rarely present inside the IRTC and tend to operate autonomously on the outside. Even 
the escort missions they conduct tend to run parallel to the IRTC and not inside the TSS 
as the Japanese do, who also conduct separate escort missions. Additionally, PLAN 
ships rarely communicate with the coalition ships or the merchant ships over the radio. 
Coalition ships communicate regularly with the merchant ships to ensure that they are 
taking all precautions to deter pirates. Radio broadcasts are also made frequently to not 
only inform the merchant ships that the coalition ships are patrolling and to indicate to 
the pirates, who are often listening, that they are conducting counter-piracy operations in 
the area. The PLAN’S limited and inefficient involvement is another example suggesting 
that counter-piracy operations may not be China’s primary focus and that perhaps it may 
not be fully committed to disrupting piracy and may instead be pursuing a politically low- 
risk operation. 

D, SAFEGUARDING ECONOMIC INTERESTS 

The second explanation for why China is involved with counter-piracy operations 
is that it is protecting its economic interests in the GOA. This section is different from the 


This information is based on personal experience by the author as well as supported by research by 
Susanne Kamerling and Frans-Paul van der Putten, who are research fellows at the Netherlands Institute for 
International Relations with a focus on the rise of China for International Securities. Susanne Kamerling 
and Frans-Paul van der Putten, “An Overseas Naval Presence without Overseas Bases: China’s Counter- 
Piracy Operation in the Gulf of Aden,” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 40, no. 4 (2011), 122-124, 

ISSN: 1868^874. 

123 Ibid., 129. 

124 To say that PLAN ships communicate rarely is a generalization. Personal experiences by the author 
dictates that PLAN ships did not broadcast or respond to radio calls; however, that could have changed 
since 2011. Ibid., 122-24. 


29 



previous one beeause it evaluates China’s maritime strategy as a possible response to its 
economic progress. Countries like China rely heavily on SLOCs for trade, for 90 percent 
of the country’s trade is by sea.^^^ Oil is an important commodity to China and 60 percent 
of its imported oil and raw materials come from the Middle East and Africa, and much of 
these resources transit through the GOA.^^^ China’s continued economic growth, 
therefore, may rely on its ability to expand on a global scale. If this explanation is true, 
we can expect to see China expanding its economic interests further west, establishing 
diplomatic and economic partners in Africa, and escorting all ships through the GOA in 
effort to build those economic partnerships. Protecting the SLOCs in the GOA from 
piracy, therefore, is essential to China’s overall economic interests now and in the far 
seas. 


1. Expanding Its Economic Trade by Investing Further West 

Operating in the GOA provides China with the opportunity to expand its 
economic trade routes further west. China experienced significant economic growth due 
to market reforms it made in 1978. Much of that growth has been possible due to 
maritime commerce and trade.To help ensure economic progress, China’s president, 
Xi Jinping, announced in 2013 its “maritime silk road” and “one belt and one road” 
initiatives. The “maritime silk road” was a proposal to increase maritime cooperation 
between China and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), both 
diplomatically as well as economically, with the intention to invest further west.^^*’ The 
Diplomat quotes Zhou Bo, a senior officer at China’s Academy of Military Science, 


125 Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 54. 

126 Ibid. 

122 “China Overview,” The World Bank, last modified March 25, 2015, http://www.worldbank.org/en/ 
country/china/ overview. 

128 Le Miere, “China’s Return to the Sea .” 

129 Jacob Stokes, “China’s Road Rules,” Foreign Affairs, April 19, 2015, 
https://www.foreignaffairs.eom/print/l 114344; Danlu Tang, “Xi Suggests China, C. Asia Build Silk Road 
Economic Xinhua, September 7, 2013, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/china/2013-09/07/ 
c_132700695.htm. 

1211 Shannon Tiezzi, “The Maritime Silk Road Vs. The String of Pearls,” The Diplomat, February 13, 
2014, http://thediplomat.eom/2014/02/the-maritime-silk-road-vs-the-string-of-pearls/. 


30 



stating, “China has only two purposes in the Indian Oeean: economie gains and the 
seeurity of Sea Lines of Communioation...Acoess, rather than bases, is what the Chinese 
Navy is really interested in.”^^^ The “maritime silk road,” linking China’s port faeilities 
with the African coast and pushing up through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, is 
one part of a two-part plan of “one belt and one road.”^^^ This initiative aims to link Asia, 
Europe, and Africa both by land, “silk road”, and sea, “maritime silk road”/^^ China 
seems to be moving ahead with its initiatives as the National Development and Reform 
Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Commerce recently issued the 
vision and the intended actions for building these initiatives, with authorization from the 
State Council, China also seeks to allocate funding to the initiatives through the Asian 
Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund (SRF), and the New Development 
Bank.135 in a recent statement by Jin Qi, the Chairperson for SRF, he stated, “The 
establishment of the SRF represents China using its funding strength to provide direct 
support for ‘One Belt and One Road’ development.”i36 This evidence helps to show that 
China’s endeavor to expand economic trade further west seems to be developing rather 
rapidly, and that supporting economic progress is very important to its national interests. 
China’s economy, albeit still one of the largest in the world, has gradually slowed 
down. 137 Perhaps finding opportunities to develop wealth and guarantee economic 


131 Tiezzi, “Maritime Silk Road.” 

132 Wendell Minnick, “China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Strategy,” Defense News, April 15, 2015, 
http://www.defensenews.eom/story/defense/2015/04/l 1/taiwan-china-one-belt-one-road-strategy/ 
25353561/. 

133 Ibid. 

134 Shaohui Tian, “Full Text: Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Belt and Road," Xinhua, March 
28, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/china/2015-03/28/c_134105858.htm. 

133 Daniel F. Runde et al., “The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” Center for Strategic and 
International Studies, March 20, 2015, http://csis.org/publication/asian-infrastructure-investment-bank; 
Stokes, “China’s Road Rules.” 

1311 “Summary: PRC Silk Road Fund Chairperson on Principles of Operation,” Jinrong Shibao Online, 
June 4, 2015, CHR2015060850063373. Jinrong Shibao Online is website of China’s leading financial 
daily, published by People’s Bank of China. 

137 “China Economic Update - June 2014,” The World Bank, accessed June 10, 2015, 
http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/publication/china-economic-update-june-2014. 


31 




prosperity is in China’s best interest.i^s Furthermore, for China’s initiatives to be 
sueeessful, it makes sense that it would assist in ensuring that the maritime routes passing 
through the GOA region will remain elear and secure to safeguard the success of its 
economic initiatives. 

2, Establishing Diplomatic and Economic Partners in Africa 

Operating in the GOA has also provided China with the opportunity to establish 
strong diplomatic and economic partners in Africa. China is benefiting from the once 
called “hopeless continent,” as parts of Africa are booming due to the high revenue from 
its oil and other natural resources.China as a trading partner has significantly helped 
parts of Africa to experience tremendous growth and development, For example, the 
infrastructure projects to be undertaken in Africa as part of the “one belt and one road” 
and “maritime silk road” initiatives include deep water ports in countries such as Tunisia, 
Senegal, Tanzania, Djibouti, Gabon, Mozambique, and Ghana to help with the exchange 
of goods. China has also been involved in Africa’s energy sector, including 
hydropower dams in Ethiopia and Uganda; solar and wind power plants in Ethiopia, 
Morocco, and South Africa; and biogas development in Guinea, Sudan, and Tunisia. 142 
Other Chinese economic sectors are actively involved in agriculture, healthcare, mining 
and industrial manufacturing. 143 These investments in Africa not only help to show that 
China seems to be developing diplomatic and economic ties in Africa but also, Africa 
appears to be becoming more important to China’s economic interests. 


138 ■jhe World Bank, “China Economic Update - June 2014.”; Chun Yao and Qian Zhang, ‘“Belt and 
Road’ Helps China’s Agriculture Go Abroad,” People’s Daily Online, June 10, 2015, 
http://en.people.en/n/2015/0610/c98649-8904570.html. 

139 McLure, “Booming Africa,” 521. 

140 Ibid. 

141 Alvin Cheng-Hin Lim, “Africa and China’s 21st Century ‘Maritime Silk Road,”’ Asia-Pacific 
Journal 13, issue 10, no. 1 (March 16, 2015), http://www.globalresearch.ca/africa-and-chinas-21st-century- 
maritime-silk-road/5439509. 

142 Ibid. 

143 Ibid. 


32 




China’s 2013 China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation White Paper 
reported that China is Africa’s largest trading partnerd^^ Africa is one of the world’s 
fastest growing regions, and trade between the two countries continues to expand 
rapidlyEvidence of this growth and promising partnership is that more than 2000 
Chinese enterprises have invested and developed in more than 50 African regions. 
China has invested over 200 billion (USD) into the continent and the annual growth rate 
for direct investments averages 20.5 percent. China’s construction contracts in Africa 
make up 35 percent of China’s overall overseas contract work completed, which is the 
second largest contract for China. 1^8 China also offers zero-tariff treatment to the 30 least 
developed countries in Africa to help boost economic development. 1^9 xhe rapid growth 
of China’s direct investments in Africa is “indicative of Africa’s development potential 
and investment appeal, and also point to the mutually beneficial nature of China-Africa 
cooperation.” Currently, there are no African nations listed as one of China’s top 
trading partners; however, a few African nations have recently made their way on the list 
of “China’s Fastest Growing Import Partners.Over the last five years, Angola, 
Nigeria, and Algeria have increased trade with China and Angola sits at the top with a 
198.3 percent increase.increase in bilateral trade helps to show that the economic 
partnerships between China and Africa are getting stronger. 


144 China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation, 3. 

145 Ibid., 3, 15. 

146 Ibid., 5. 

14’^ Howard W. French, China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New 
Empire in Africa (New York: Knopf, 2014), 4; China, China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation, 5. 

148 China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation, 9. 

149 Ibid., 5. 

150 Ibid. 

151 Daniel Workman, “China’s Fastest-Growing Import Partners,” World’s Top Exports, May 8, 2015, 
http://www.worldstopexports.com/chinas-fastest-growing-import-partners/727. Sources for this data come 
from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Factbook, and the IntemationalTrade Centre 
(ITC). 

152 Ibid. 


33 



Operating in the GOA has also provided China the opportunity to speoifieally add 
Somalia to its expanding list of Afriean partners. As a result of the fall of the stable 
government and breakdown of law and order in Somalia in 1991, China has played an 
active role by providing aid and assistance, building infrastructure, and investing 
economically in the country. China has donated to peacekeeping actors in Somalia by 
supporting the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).!^^ China has also 
donated to several United Nations (UN) programs dedicated to Somalia such as the 
World Food Programme and peacekeeping missions.!^® 

In terms of trade, the bilateral trade relationship between China and Somalia is 
very minimal compared to China’s top trading partners, but it is increasing each year. 
China is one of Somalia’s top import partners but Somalia is ranked around 149 on 
China’s list of partners.Somali is still showing a trade deficit for China since it 
imports more than it exports; however, over the past five years the bilateral trade between 
the two countries has more than doubled. In an interview in 2009 with Chinese media, 
Somali Minister of Trade Abdelkadsir Irro acknowledged China as one of its main 
trading partners in the world and noted that they have a “very good trade relationship 
with China. ”159 Minister Irro further noted that China has been vital in providing aid and 
assistance for several infrastructure projects including roads and hospitals.He 
considers the Chinese people to be like “brothers and sisters to Somalia.”i6i These 
investments are evidence that China is participating in counter-piracy not only to 


153 Lanteigne, “Fire over Water,” 290. 

154 Lanteigne, “Fire over Water,” 292-93. 

155 Ibid., 294. 

156 Ibid., 291-93. 

15^ “List of Partners Markets for a Product Commercialized by China,” International Trade Centre, last 
modified January 2014, http://www.trademap.org/countrymap/Country_SelProductCountry_TS.aspx; 
“Somalia,” Observatory of Economic Complexity, n.d., https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/som/. 

158 International Trade Centre, “List of Partners by China.” 

159 “Somalia Upbeat about Trade Relations with China,” X/nAwa, September 14, 2009, 
http://en.people.cn/90001/90776/90883/6757286.html. 

160 Ibid. 

161 Ibid. 


34 



safeguard these investments from the threats of piracy but also, to perhaps benefit from 
economic growth with nations in the area. Furthermore, as stated in the background 
section, piracy is a result of the struggles of a fragile state. Perhaps economic growth and 
development in the region, and specifically for Somalia, will help to pacify the piracy 
problem. 


3. Escorting All Ships to Build Economic Partnerships 

In order to help bolster the diplomatic and economic partnerships that China has 
developed in Africa as well as protect its economic interests, China has been conducting 
escort missions for all ships, not just its own, through the GOA. Piracy threatens all trade 
flow and drives up the cost of goods, which affects large trading countries such as 
China. *62 Therefore, it is in China’s best interest to help facilitate the safety of the 
merchant ships through this high-risk area. 

Over 2000 ships pass through the GOA region every year and roughly 80 percent 
of all ships transiting are Chinese, or carrying Chinese cargo. *63 Therefore, it is in 
China’s best interest to ensure the safe passage of not only its own ships, but also the 
ships that are carrying goods for China or carrying goods for China’s trading partners. 
Upon the PLAN’S departure for the GOA in 2008, the commanding officer for the 
expedition. Rear Admiral Du Jingchen, reported, “It is the PLAN’S job to ensure safety of 
Chinese merchant vessels across the Gulf. ”*64 Additionally, he vowed that the PLAN 
would also offer, upon request, escorts for all foreign vessels. ”*66 In 2009, He Jianzhong, 
spokesman for China’s Ministry of Transport, reported that 15 escort missions had 
successfully been completed in the GOA. *66 Of these 15 escort missions, PLAN ships 
protected 33 vessels: 17 Chinese ships, 15 ships from Hong Kong, and 1 ship from 


*62 Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 16. 

*63 Ibid. 

*64 Hao Yan and Ruixue Bai, “China Focus: Chinese Fleet to Escort Ships off Somalia,” X/nAwa, 
December 26, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2008-12/26/content_10564363.htm. 

*65 Ibid. 

*66 Fang Yang, “Chinese Navy Completes 15 Escort Missions in Gulf of Aden,” X/wAwa, February 6, 
2009, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2009-02/06/content_10776389.htm. 


35 



Taiwan.16^ He Jianzhong noted that the PLAN also offered free eseorts to foreign vessels. 
By 2011, the PLAN had eseorted over 4,000 ships, 70 pereent of whieh were foreign 
ships of over 50 different eountries.^®^ This evidenee shows that in just two years, PLAN 
made signilieant strides in its ability to exeeute eseort missions as well as show its 
inereasing support to proteet its eeonomie partners’ vessels as well. A senior Chinese 
military official recently reported that as of May of 2015 it has provided protection for 
over 6,000 ships, of which half were foreign, number of escorts is still significant, 

because it shows China’s continued support in the effort, but the jump in numbers from 
2011 to 2015 is not quite as major compared to the jump from 2009 to 2011. This could 
be because the number of pirate attacks in the area has been decreasing. The escort 
missions have provided China with the opportunity to not only safeguard its own 
commerce, but also demonstrate that China is dedicated to protecting the commerce of its 
economic partners’ as well. 

Counter-piracy operations provide China with the opportunity to operate abroad 
and to establish trading partners and investments that will continue to boost its economy. 
By building up the “maritime silk road” and “one belt and one road” initiatives, China is 
able to invest further west in effort to enhance its economic growth. By supporting escort 
missions for all commercial shipping, China is able to safeguard its partnerships and 
economic commerce. China, as one of the largest trading partners in the world, has a 
concern for all commerce that could interrupt the global economy. China has a vested 
interest, therefore, to safeguard its economic interests from the threats of piracy. 

E. COOPERATION, PEACE, SECURITY, AND TO BE VIEWED AS A 

GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN 

China is concerned about the stability of its economic interests, but this section 
proposes that it does seem to care about cooperation, security, peace, and being viewed as 


167 Ibid. 

168 Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 93. 

169 “China Fulfills Obligations, Plays Constructive Role in Safeguarding Regional, Int’l Security: 
Senior Military Official,” X/nAwa, May 31, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015- 

05/31/c 134285722.htm. 


36 



a good global citizen. In contrast to section C, where mostly Western sources state that 
China is challenging its rivals and establishing a geopolitical position, others claim that 
China is attempting to coordinate, cooperate, and strengthen its ties with the international 
community. If this is true, the expectation is that China is coordinating with other navies, 
joining international organizations that coordinate to fight piracy in the GOA, and 
increasing its role in the global sphere to be viewed as a good global citizen. 

1. Cooperating with Other Navies 

Conducting counter-piracy operations in the GOA is an opportunity for navies to 
cooperate and to coordinate with one another on security issues that have an impact on 
the international community. Christian Le Miere, a Senior Fellow for Naval Forces and 
Maritime Security at London’s Institute for International Strategic Studies (IISS), wrote 
in the Asia Pacific Bulletin that China’s desire to protect the security of shipping mirrors 
the position of other maritime trading nations.This desire encourages assistance in 
operations such as protecting the freedom of navigation and policing the international 
maritime trade routes. Exercises at sea such as counter-piracy are an opportunity for 
international maritime security cooperation. Cooperation can be built on common 
interests such as combating piracy and protecting the international shipping lanes, 
especially when it occurs in such strategic areas as the Gulf of Aden.^^^ PLAN has 
increased its cooperation with other navies in the area, but these exchanges are still 
formal in nature. This means that PLAN ships still generally operate independently and 
limit general communication and maneuvering intentions with other coalition forces. 
Even if PEAN ships do not openly and frequently communicate with the other navies, the 
formal exchanges still seem to suggest that China is taking advantage of an opportunity to 
enhance mutual cooperation through a common security issue. 

China actually called out for more cooperation in 2012 to fight piracy by 
optimizing escort resources and sharing information, which will better safeguard 

Le Miere, “China’s Return to the Sea.” 

1^1 Ibid. 

Van Ginkel and van der Putten, “Challenges and Opportunities,” 182. 


37 



navigation/^^ In 2010, a Portuguese Rear Admiral, operating from a NATO ship, had a 
successful meeting onboard a Chinese frigate in the Gulf of Aden to discuss counter¬ 
piracy operationsd^^ By 2013, NATO and PLAN ships had coordinated on two 
additional missions These exercises help to show that China is reaching out to 
cooperate with various navies in the region, not merely a select few. If China were only 
operating with a few select navies that might give off the impression that China is only 
interested in appearing like it is committed to counter-piracy operations. In May of 2013, 
members of the Singaporean Navy, while in command of CTF 151, boarded the Chinese 
Navy missile destroyer CNS Harbin.The meeting was a part of the ongoing efforts to 
improve cooperation and strengthen mutual understanding in counter-piracy 
operations. This meeting helps to prove not only that China is working to reinforce its 
commitment to cooperation, security, and peace in the GOA, but also the PLAN hosted 
the meeting onboard its vessel, which further illustrates China’s efforts towards friendly 
cooperation and mutual trust. Rear Admiral Giam, the Singaporean Commander of CTF 
151, stated, “We share a common purpose—to defeat piracy and ensure the security of 
international shipping. We also recognize the benefits of coordinating our efforts to 
achieve greater effectiveness.”^^* China and the United States conducted joint counter¬ 
piracy exercises in the GOA in 2012, 2013, and again recently in December 2014.^^^ 
China also conducted counter-piracy exercises with the Iranian Navy in September 


Shengnan Zhao, “PLA Navy Calls for More Cooperation to Fight Piracy,” China Daily, February 
24, 2012, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-02/24/content_14680613.htm. 

174 “NAJO and Chinese Commanders Discuss Counter-Piracy Operations,” North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization, January 11, 2010, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_60764.htm. 

175 “NATO Forces Interact With Chinese Naval Vessel During Counter Piracy Operations,” North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization, April 14, 2013, http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-67893234- 
C2047605/natolive/news_99738.htm. 

176 “(^jp J 5 J and Chinese Navy Cooperate in Counter-Piracy Operations in Gulf of Aden,” Combined 
Maritime Forces, May 27, 2013, http://combinedmaritimeforces.eom/2013/05/27/ctf-151-and-chinese- 
navy-cooperate-in-counter-piracy-operations-in-gulf-of-aden/. 

Ibid. 

178 Ibid. 

179 “Joint Sea Drills Shows Improved Relations,” China Daily, August 26, 2013, Access World News 
ACHD108695647; Sam LaGrone, “U.S. and China Conduct Anti-Piracy Exercise,” USNINews, December 
12, 2014, http://news.usni.org/2014/12/12/u-s-china-conduct-anti-piracy-exercise. 


38 



2014 1*0 January 2015, officers from the Republic of Korea assigned to CTF 151 
visited a PLAN ship in the GOA to exchange information and bolster stronger bonds 
between the CMF and Chinese counter-piracy task forces/*^ Senior Captain Wang Peiji 
from the PLAN stated, “The People’s Liberation Army (Navy) task force ETG-547 is 
interested in building up mutual cooperation with CMF’s Task Forces.Transparency 
is generally very low for PLAN; therefore, allowing various foreign officers to visit its 
ships is a big step for China beeause these visits could have costs in terms of revealing 
how PLAN operates and the kinds of equipment its vessels have. The visits are probably 
conducted in a similar fashion when foreigners visit U.S. Navy vessels where only certain 
spaces are “sanitized” for these visits; however, the visits onboard PLAN ships still help 
to show China’s willingness to work with other navies. The exercises also demonstrate a 
pattern that China is working to build mutual eooperation not only on eounter-piraey 
operations, but also on cooperation with the countries’ navies also deployed to the area 
through formal exereises and meetings. China is demonstrating that just being present in 
the region is not enough to combat security concerns. Cooperation and coordination by 
all is necessary to work towards peace. 

2. Participating with Organizations That Fight Piracy 

China has not only increased its cooperation with other navies in the region, but 
also increased its participation with some of the international organizations that 
coordinate to fight piraey off the coast of Somalia. Since piracy is not only a maritime 
issue but also a political, economic, and social issue, cooperation is required on a much 
larger scale more so than just patrolling ships. Therefore, China’s willingness to join 
these organizations is evidenee that China is putting effort towards more cooperation with 
the international community against security issues. China beeame a member of the 
Contaet Group on Piraey off Somalia (CGPCS) when it was established January 14, 


LaGrone, “U.S. and China Conduct Anti-Piracy Exercise.” 

“Combined Maritime Forces and Chinese Warships Meet in Oman,” Combined Maritime Forces, 
January 19, 2015, http://combinedmaritimeforces.eom/2015/01/19/combined-maritime-forces-and-chinese- 
warships-meet-in-oman/. 

182 Ibid. 


39 



2009.1^3 The United Nations established this organization in effort to facilitate discussion 
and coordination among state actors and organizations regarding piracy off the coast of 
Somalia.1^4 Over 60 nations and international organizations participate in the CGPCS to 
include the African Union (AU), EU, Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 
International Maritime Organization (IMO), AMISOM, and many of the shipping 
industries. The Contact Group reports progress directly to the UN Security Council 
and meets regularly, 

China also became a member of the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction 
(SHADE) meeting in 2012.'*^ SHADE meetings are held annually in Bahrain and began 
in 2008 as an initiative to coordinate and deconflict activities between the militaries 
involved in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.^^* The conference also allows 
organizations and nations who would not typically coordinate their naval operations to 
meet more on a regular basis and strategize about the best way to combat piracy. The 
meetings are co-chaired on a rotational basis between the Combined Maritime Eorces, 
NATO, and the European Union Naval Eorces (EUNAVEOR).^^*’ Counter-piracy 
operations in the GOA not only provide China with the opportunity to safeguard its own 
national interests, but also to get more involved with the international community. 

China joined CGPCS right away in 2009 but CGPCS does not have as much of a 
leading role on counter-piracy operations as SHADE. China did not join SHADE, 
however, until four years after it began. Similar to how it took PLAN until roughly 2010 

183 “Piracy off the Coast of Somalia,” United Nations, Department of Political Affairs, 2014, 
http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/undpa/main/activities_by_region/africa/somalia_piracy. 

United Nations, Department of Political Affairs “Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.” 

185 Ibid. 

186 Ibid. 

187 “Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE),” Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2013, 
http://oceansbeyondpiracy.org/matrix/shared-awareness-and-deconfliction-shade. 

188 Ibid. 

189 “NATO Hosts Latest Counter Piracy Conference in Bahrain,” Combined Maritime Forces, 
December 11, 2014, http://combinedmaritimeforces.eom/2014/12/l 1/nato-hosts-latest-counter-piracy- 
conference-in-bahrain/. 

190 Ibid. 

191 Van Ginkel and van der Putten, “Challenges and Opportunities,” 182. 


40 



to begin conducting bilateral exercises with other navies and 2012 to call for more 
support on the operations and begin to strengthen its coordination even though it had 
been in the region since 2009, China was also slow to get directly involved with counter¬ 
piracy organizations in the region. China reiterated its support for CGPCS and SHADE in 
its 2012 Defense White Paper helping to further demonstrate that China’s intentions are 
to cooperate to eradicate security issues that threaten peace.Therefore, China’s 
participation with these organizations help to demonstrate China’s efforts to combat 
piracy not just by maritime defense, but also through diplomacy. 

3. Increasing Its Role in Global Society 

Counter-piracy in the GOA has provided China the opportunity to increase its role 
in the global society not only by cooperating with other navies on counter-piracy 
operations, or by participating with international organizations that coordinate to fight 
piracy, but also by declaring that cooperation on maritime security is an important part of 
its national defense strategy. China’s 2012 Defense White Paper stated that one way that 
China is “deepening security cooperation and fulfilling its international obligation” is by 
working to “promote dialogue and cooperation on maritime security.”1^3 in a review of 
China’s 2012 Defense White Paper, Kimberly Hsu and Craig Murray, both policy 
analysts for military and security affairs with the U.S.-China Economic and Security 
Review Commission, reported that this is the first time in a Defense White Paper that 
China has explicitly identified the protection of overseas interests and maritime security 
as a priority. 194 China’s Defense White Paper mentions piracy several times throughout 
the various sections, indicating that countering piracy is important to many aspects of 

192 xhe People’s Republic of China, “VI. Military and Security Cooperation,” in 2012 Defense White 
Paper (Beijing: Information Office of the State Council, 2013), http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Database/ 
WhitePapers/index.htm. 

193 The People’s Republic of China, Ministry of National Defense, “I. New Situation, New Challenges 
and New Missions,” in The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces (White Paper), ed. Zhaohui 
Dong (Beijing: Information Office of the State Council, 2013), 
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Database/WhitePapers/2013-04/16/content_4442752.htm. 

194 Kimberly Hsu, Craig Murray, and Matt Wild, “China’s 2012 Defense White Paper: The 
Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces,” U.S.-China Economic and Security Review 
Commission, May 3, 2013, http://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China’s%202012%20Defense 
%20White%20Paper—The%20Diversified%20Employment%20of%20China’s%20Armed%20Forces.pdf. 


41 



China’s diplomatic strategy. Counter-piracy exercises speeifieally helped to promote 
mutual trust in the political and military fields as well as to accelerate the PLA’s 
modernization. 195 xhe PLAN has conducted exercises with over 31 countries, and since 
2012 has provided proteetion to at least four World Food Programme ships and 2,455 
foreign ships, whieh aceounts for 49 pereent of total escorted ships. 196 This evidence 
indicates China’s eommitment to eombat piracy in the region and to coordinate with the 
international community to accomplish this goal. 

Operating in the GOA also provided the PLAN the tools to strengthen its overseas 
capabilities. Developing the skills required for counter-piraey operations and becoming 
more profieient at those skills sueh as helicopter operations, maneuvering tactics, and 
small boat boardings can help to apply them to other operations sueh as military 
operations other than war (MOOTW). To execute an operation, being able to plan, 
coordinate, and then execute multiple tasks at one time are required. To conduct counter¬ 
piracy for example a ship must be able to maneuver the ship, launeh a helicopter, lower a 
RHIB with a boarding team, and communicate with the pirates all at the same time and 
all very quickly before the pirates have a ehance to get away. To properly exeeute these 
types of missions, it takes practice and ample training. Therefore, training in the GOA 
has helped to prepare the PLAN for more than just protecting merchant vessels at sea 
from pirates and protecting the SLOCs but also, to use the training and lessons learned 
from eounter-piracy and execute MOOTW. ^97 PLAN actively assists with humanitarian 
assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) and aid, evacuation of citizens, anti-terrorism, and 
peaeekeeping missions. ^98 All of these operations require similar skills. Evacuation of 
citizens for example requires significant planning similar to counter-piracy. If the pirates 
are detained, or if eitizens are brought onboard, the ship must be able to provide living 
quarters, food, and bathroom and shower faeilities for as long as they are onboard. The 
HA/DR exereises refer back to the logistical capabilities that PLAN ships have 

195 PRC, “V. Safeguarding World Peace.” 

196 Ibid. 

197 Ibid. 

198 Ibid. 


42 



overcome. Things to consider are how much food and water supplies will each ship need 
to plan to carry, how many people can each ship take onboard, and how much fuel is 
required to execute this mission before refueling is required. The GOA counter-piracy 
operations, therefore, have provided PLAN ships with a benchmark for which it can 
enhance its training and properly prepare itself to execute other types of missions. 

The counter-piracy and MOOTW operations all help to symbolize China’s 
increasing role in the global society and its efforts and willingness to coordinate and 
cooperate. By continuing to strengthen its security forces to combat challenges and 
threats in the world, and by continuing to put an emphasis on cooperation, security, and 
peace, China has set a precedent that it intends to be viewed as a good global citizen and 
a player in the international community. China stated that “its armed forces have always 
been a staunch force upholding peace and regional stability, and will continue to increase 
cooperation and mutual trust with the armed forces of other countries, participate in 
regional and international security affairs, and play an active role in international political 
and security fields. Counter-piracy operations in the GOA have provided China with 
the opportunity to be viewed as a good global citizen because it has been able to increase 
its footprint with more genuine contributions to the international community. 

F. CONCLUSION 

Counter-piracy in the GOA is important to protect China’s economic progress, but 
it also provides the opportunity to expand that progress. Therefore, there is an overlap 
amid the three explanations discussed in this chapter that explain why China is involved. 
Piracy in this region is out of China’s immediate neighborhood and it could benefit as a 
free rider from the coalition forces. That is to say, counter-piracy operations would 
continue whether China was present or not. China’s activities and propaganda, however, 
reflect a policy that aims to enhance the Navy’s image as reliable and dependable and as 
a force that can respond to international security issues such as counter-piracy. 
Cooperating also helps to ensure that China can benefit from, as well as add, its influence 
on the international system. China’s role in counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden, therefore, 

199 “V. Safeguarding World Peace.” 

43 



is a practical step because it is low risk and provides high rewards. The issue of piraey 
may not, however, be the PLAN’S prime motivator for operating in the Gulf of Aden but 
rather, a stepping-stone for China’s overall maritime and diplomatic strategy. 


44 



III. CHINA AND COUNTER-PIRACY OPERATIONS IN 

SOUTHEAST ASIA 

A, INTRODUCTION 

The Southeast Asia region is another area that is vital to eountries such as China 
that rely heavily on the sea for its trade and economy. Therefore, it seems to make sense 
for China to take an interest in the issue of piracy in this region. This chapter will first 
provide background on the piracy issue in Southeast Asia and then, in an attempt to 
answer the overarching question of why is China involved with counter-piracy 
operations, will explore China’s maritime involvement in Southeast Asia by examining 
three possible explanations. Is China meeting the challenges of its rivals and establishing 
a geopolitical position, safeguarding its economic interests, or cooperating within the 
international community as a good global citizen? 

B, BACKGROUND ON PIRACY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA 

The Southeast Asia territory provides an extremely favorable arena for pirate 
activity due to its geographical makeup. The archipelago region is a series of straits, and 
choke points inviting illegitimate activity. Figure 1 illustrates a map of this region. The 
pirates can enter and exit the straits at numerous areas and disappear without a trace. 
The pirate vessels also have the advantage of being small, which enables them to 
maneuver the shallow and tight areas of the region.^oi Many of the islands at one time 
were also sparsely populated, if not uninhabited, with irregular coastlines, secluded bays, 
and navigable rivers, which provided pirates with countless places to hide .202 The 
geography also provides suitable land bases to house pirates and launch attacks.203 


200 gj-jj. Tagliacozzo, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asian 
Frontier, 1865-1915 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), 110, 112. 

Adam J. Young, Contemporary Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia: History, Causes and Remedies 
(Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007), 43. 

2®2 Stefan Eklof, Pirates in Paradise: A Modern History of Southeast Asia’s Maritime Marauders 
(Copenhagen, Denmark: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2006), 5. 

203 Ibid. 


45 



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and Singapore Strait. 


Piraey has been a reality for centuries in Southeast Asia.204 xhe first recorded 
incidents of piracy in the region can be dated back to AD 589, and since then it has ebbed 
and flowed throughout history.^05 Piracy emerged and was rampant during such periods 
as the colonial era in Southeast Asia.^os Many of the European colonists pirated merchant 
ships to establish power and precedence in the region as well as to gain from the dramatic 
increase in trade as a result of the rich resources in the region. 207 Furthermore, many of 
the indigenous people turned to piracy, but for different reasons. For instance, oppression 
from the colonists left many no choice but to turn to piracy because they did not benefit 
from the influx in trade or the growing economy around them.208 


204 Young, Contemporary Maritime Piracy, 3. 

Konstam, Piracy: The Complete History, 288. 

Ke Xu, “Piracy, Seaborne Trade and the Rivalries of Foreign Sea Powers in East and Southeast 
Asia, 1511tol839:A Chinese Perspective,” in Piracy, Maritime Terrorism and Securing the Malacca 
Straits, ed. Graham Gerard Ong-Webb (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), 237-39. 

Ibid., 238; Eklof, Pirates in Paradise, 5, 9. 

208 David Chandler et al.. The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History, ed. Norman G. 
Owen (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2005), 162. 


46 




As piracy escalated in the area, the local governments struggled to mitigate the 
issue because many lacked the resources and organization to patrol and seeure their own 
waters.209 piracy was challenged, however, when naval technology such as steamships 
advaneed in the 1840s.210 Steam powered vessels allowed more effective patrols amid 
strong currents and high or low winds, and shallow draft steam vessels eould safely 
navigate waters that were previously unreaohable .211 The European powers began to fight 
baek against piracy, as it was a threat to eolonial expansion, seaborne trade, the 
developing global eeonomy, and safety of navigation throughout the region. With the 
advent of the modernizing world in the late 18* and early 19* eenturies, Europe and the 
United States began to eoordinate to combat piracy that threatened the international 

shipping lanes.212 

This area, nevertheless, remains a hotspot for piracy because it contains some of 
the world’s most crucial shipping lanes such as the Strait of Malacca, Singapore Strait, 
and the South China Sea.2i3 It also eontains six out of 25 of the busiest ports in the world: 
Singapore, Tanjung Priok in Indonesia, Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, Port Kelang also in 
Malaysia, Manila in the Philippines, and Eaem Chabang in Thailand.2i4 More than 
90,000 vessels a year navigate this region carrying nearly one quarter of the world’s trade 
and half of its oil.2i5 Piracy had been relatively low until recently. Pirate attacks 
increased 46 pereent sinee 2012 and peaked in 2014.216 Southeast Asia accounted for 75 
pereent of the world’s maritime piraey attacks in 2014 according to the International 


2119 Chandler et at, Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia, 162. 

2111 Eklof, Pirates in Paradise, 11. 

211 Young, Contemporary Maritime Piracy, 43. 

212 Eklof, Pirates in Paradise, 11. 

213 Ishaan Tharoor, “Piracy is on the Rise in the World’s Most Crucial Shipping Lane,’’ Washington 
Post, October 10, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.eom/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/10/10/piracy-is-on- 
the-rise-in-the-worlds-most-crucial-shipping-lane/. 

214 Ahmad Almaududy Amri, “Southeast Asia’s Maritime Piracy: Challenges, Legal Instruments and a 
Vox-ward,” Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs 6, no. 3 (2014), 155, doi: 10.1080/ 

18366503.2014.915492. 

213 “Southeast Asia Maritime Crime and Piracy,’’ SSIC Code: 3811.1a, Office ofNaval Intelligence, 
NIMITZ Operational Intelligence Center, 2015. 

216 Ibid. 


47 



Maritime Bureau.^i^ Analysts suggest that the initial rise in attacks may have been a 
result of the economic slowdown in 2008 forcing people to find other opportunities for 
income such as piracyThe shipping companies were also affected and were forced to 
keep ships in port or at anchor, which made them more susceptible to pirate attacks. 

As the economy began to bounce back the swelling of the global economy also resulted 
in an increase in commercial traffic through the area, which meant piracy was again 

opportunistic.220 

Tracking and reporting pirate attacks in Southeast Asia is challenging due to the 
various reporting agencies as well as the nature of the attacks. Figure 5 illustrates the 
IMB’s reported numbers for Southeast Asia. In addition to IMB’s reports, a group called 
the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against 
Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) also reports pirate activity; however, its numbers differ from 
that of IMB’s as depicted in Figure 6. One explanation for the disparity in numbers is that 
many attacks go unreported by both the shipping industries as well as the flag states .221 
Information regarding the attacks is also not being shared between the various counter¬ 
piracy organizations .222 The attacks are difficult to report because two-thirds of them 
involve vessels that are at anchor, berthed, or adrift when the onboard crew is minimal or 
not as alert.223 Moreover, ReCAAP labels these attacks as petty in nature as classified 


212 ICC International Maritime Bureau, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships: Report for the 
Period 1 January—31 December 2014 (London: IMB, 2014), 6. 

21^ Karsten von Hoesslin, “Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea in Southeast Asia: Organized and 
¥\u\df Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 35, no. 7-8 (2012), 544, doi: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.684652. 

219 Ibid. 

220 David Rosenberg and Christopher Chung, “Maritime Security in the South China Sea: 
Coordinating Coastal and User State Priorities,” Ocean Development and International Law 39, no. 1 
(2008), 52, doi: 10.1080/00908320701641602. 

221 ICC International Maritime Bureau, “Piracy Report 2015,” 17; Miha Hribemik, Countering 
Maritime Piracy and Robbery in Southeast Asia: The Role of the ReCAAP Agreement, Briefing Paper 
2013/2 (Belgium: European Institute for Asian Studies, 2013), 3. 

222 Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia 
(ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC), Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, Annual 
Report 1st January-31st December 2014 (Singapore: ReCAAP ISC, 2015), 3, http://www.recaap.org/ 
DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?Command=Core_Download&EntryId=385&PortalId 
=0&TabId=78. 

223 Office of Naval Intelligence, “Southeast Asia Maritime Crime and Piracy.” 


48 



according to the level of violenee and eeonomie impaot.224 These petty thefts aceount for 
62 pereent of the attaeks in the IMB data, whieh tend to result in the stealing of personal 
goods and stores, or taking nothing at all.225 More significant attacks involve the 
syphoning of fuel and oil.226 The pirates also generally earry knives or nothing at all, 
which is in stark contrast to the Gulf of Aden pirates who carry assault rifles and roeket 
launehers.227 Therefore, the signifieance of the ineident may also eontribute to whether a 
ship reports the attaek or not. Thus, this chapter will foeus on China’s role in counter- 
piraey operations in Southeast Asia to ensure that this analysis is eompatible with the 
eomparative ease material from Chapter II. 


110 

100 

90 



■ Indonesia 


■ Malaysia 

■ Strait of Malacca and 
Singapore Strait 

■ Myanmar 

■ Philippines 


■ Vietnam 


Figure 5. Suceessful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by the IMB228 


224 ReCAAP ISC, Piracy and Armed Robbery, 10-11. 

225 Ibid., 15. 

226 Ibid. 

227 Ibid., 13. 

228 ICC International Maritime Bureau, “Piracy Report 2013,” 5; ICC International Maritime Bureau, 
“Piracy Report 2014,” 5; ICC International Maritime Bureau, “Piracy Report 2015,” 5. This graph was 
constructed by the author using the data from these sources. 


49 





















Figure 6. Total Number of Suecessful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia 

reported by the IMB229 


U 

ro 

I 


OJ 

E 

3 



■ Indonesia 

■ Strait of Malacca and 
Singapore Strait (SOMS) 

■ Malaysia 

■ Vietnam 


■ Philippines 


■ Thailand 


Figure 7. Successful Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia reported by ReCAAP230 


229 ICC International Maritime Bureau, “Piracy Report 2013,” “Piracy Report 2014,” “Piracy Report 
2015.” This graph was constructed by the author using the data from these sources. 

230 “A^ierts and Reports,” Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery 
against Ships in Asia Infonnation Sharing Centre, n.d., http://www.recaap.org/ 

AlertsReports/IncidentReports.aspx. This graph was constructed by the author using the data from this 
source. 


50 

























































2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 


■ Total Overall for Region 


Figure 8. Total Number of Suecessful Pirate Attaeks in Southeast Asia 

reported by ReCAAP231 


Piraey has been on the rise in Southeast Asia as depicted by the graphs. The 
number of attacks for 2015 is low comparatively because the data is only from the 
months January through March. Data in Figure 7 shows a decrease for Indonesia in 2014 
but an increase for both Malaysia and the South China Sea. The overall data, therefore, 
illustrates that 2014 marks the height of piracy in the region. Given the rise in piracy in 
the region, it makes sense that China, a country that relies on this area economically, is 
concerned about the safety of navigation through the region. Since 2005, Singapore, 
Indonesia, and Malaysia have joined together to patrol the region in effort to manage the 
piracy issue.^32 China also began engaging the issue in the region in 2005; however, the 
next three sections will examine its level of support and suggest that it could also have 
other motivations in the region other than just counter-piracy operations.233 


231 ReCAAP ISC, “Alerts and Reports.” This graph was constructed by the author using the data from 
this source. 

^32 Song, “Regional Maritime Security Initiative,” 124. 

233 Joshua H. Ho, “Southeast Asia SLOC Security,” in Maritime Security in the South China Sea: 
Regional Implications and International Cooperation, ed. Shicun Wu and Keyuan Zou (England: Ashgate, 
2009), 170. 


51 

































C. MEET THE CHALLENGES OF ITS RIVALS AND ESTABLISH A 

GEOPOLITICAL POSITION 

This section assesses whether China is conducting counter-piracy operations in 
Southeast Asia to meet the challenges of its rivals and establish a geopolitical position. If 
this explanation is accurate, then the expectations for China’s actions in Southeast Asia 
are that it is developing a more aggressive approach to the modernization of its navy to 
operate in the far seas, focusing on objectives aside from counter-piracy operations, and 
reacting passively towards counter-piracy operations. 

The research for this section reveals that this explanation does not prove to be 
true. China does not seem to be using counter-piracy operations to match its rivals and 
enhance its geopolitical position. Unlike in the Gulf of Aden where China has had a 
steady flow of ships deployed, research does not reveal how many, or if any, PLAN ships 
patrol the region in support of counter-piracy operations. Therefore, it is difficult to 
examine PLAN’S behavior in the region. 

A commentator from Singapore in Business Times Online notes there has been 
more of a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) presence in the region and that one of its missions 
has been patrolling and anti-piracy.^^'^ The article neither specifies further details 
regarding China’s involvement with piracy nor reports where in Southeast Asia the 
patrols took place.^^^ Furthermore, the article states that the other countries in the region 
such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia are adding new and better coast guard 
ships to their maritime forces and that this is in effort to preserve the growing importance 
of regional waters to international security, to preserve freedom of navigation within 
SLOCs, and to combat sea-based criminal activities such as piracy.^^® Therefore, it seems 
as if China is balanced with the other countries of the region by using its coast guard 
instead of a more aggressive approach with its PLAN ships. 

Richard A. Bitzinger, “Singapore Commentary Says Regional Coast Guards Employed as 
‘Proxies’ in South China Sea,” The Business Times Online, May 15, 2015, SEL2015051510574524. 
Bitzinger is a senior fellow and coordinator of the military transformation programme at the S. Rajaratnam 
School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. 

235 Ibid. 

236 Ibid. 


52 



There are also several factors that could explain the lack of data regarding 
plan’s involvement with counter-piracy. As depicted in the background section, piracy 
in Southeast Asia is more petty crime in nature as opposed to piracy in the GOA 
involving holding large bulk carriers for millions of dollars in ransoms; therefore, the 
need for navy patrols when security boats, port security, or even coast guard vessels 
could combat this issue may not be as necessary for this region. Piracy in Southeast Asia 
is also more of an issue for the littoral states such as Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, 
who have coordinated to combat the issue. These states have also had concerns about the 
possible intervention of foreign powers sending naval vessels to the region, because 
many of the pirate attacks take place in or close to their territorial waters.With that 
said, it seems as if China is respecting this concern by not sending PLAN ships. Lastly, 
due to the geographical constraints of an archipelago, patrols by multiple navies would 
also be challenging. China, therefore, does not seem to be competing with other nations 
in the region when it comes to counter-piracy operations. 

D. SAFEGUARDING ECONOMIC INTERESTS 

The second possible explanation for why China is involved with counter-piracy 
operations in Southeast Asia would be that it is protecting its economic interests. This 
section discusses China’s maritime strategy in terms of its economic progress. The pirate 
attacks are closer in proximity to China and threaten its commerce in its own backyard. 
The pirate attacks are also threatening some of the busiest and most crucial shipping lanes 
for China, which are the Strait of Malacca, Strait of Singapore, and South China Sea of 
which 60 percent of the ships passing through are Chinese ships.^^s China relies heavily 
on the sea lines of communication for trade, for 90 percent of the country’s trade is by 
sea.^^^ Specifically, 80 percent of China’s oil passes through this region.^^o Therefore, it 
makes sense that China would be concerned about the rising pirate attacks in the 
Southeast Asia region as they directly affect its economic interests. Similar to the GOA, 

Song, “Regional Maritime Security Initiative,” 124. 

238 Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 15. 

239 Cole, Great Wall at Sea, 54. 

240 Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 15. 


53 



if this explanation is true, then we ean expect the same behavior from China in this 
region: expanding its economic trade, establishing diplomatic and economic partnerships 
in the region, and building these relationships by supporting all escort missions. 

1. Expanding Its Economic Trade 

Since this region is economically significant to China, it has adopted a similar 
strategy for economic expansion as it has for the GOA region. The “maritime silk road” 
and “one belt and one road” are China’s initiatives to expand its trade, which includes the 
Southeast Asia region. Figure 9 illustrates this trade route. The turquoise line shows the 
trade route running through the Southeast Asia region, specifically through the South 
China Sea, Strait of Malacca, and Singapore Strait. The initiatives are meant to help 
change the world’s political and economic landscape through growth and development 
for the countries along the routes.The National Development and Reform 
Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, and the ministries of foreign affairs 
and commerce recently issued the plans for these initiatives.The initiatives promote a 
free flow of economic elements, an efficient allocation of resources, and the integration 
of markets by enhancing the connectivity of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the adjacent 
seas.^'^^ In an interview, Xi Jinping stated, “The initiative is not meant as rhetoric. It 
represents real work that can be seen and felt to bring real benefits to countries in the 
region.” ^44 Furthermore, Xi stated at a recent symposium in Boao, south China’s Hainan 
Province, that he hopes the trade volume will surpass 2.5 trillion (USD) in a decade or 
so.245 Piracy, therefore, especially the rise in piracy in a region vital to China, poses a 
threat to the expansion of the trade volume that is necessary for its economic progress. 


241 Erickson and Strange, No Substitute for Experience, 15. 

242 Shaohui, “China’s Belt and Road.’’ 

243 Ibid. 

244 Ibid. 

245 “China Eyes 2.5-tln-USD Annual Trade Volume With Belt and Road Countries,’’XinAwa, March 
29, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2015-03/29/c_134107329.htm. 


54 



Europe 




o 

Russia 



Europe 

o 

O Central Asia 

o 



Mediterranean Sea 

Persian Gulf 

o 



o 

’ Sou^ 


Q SouthAsia i 

West Asia ^^^^^^^^Southeast J 


^^Asja ^ 

Chini\ 




Sea V 

y 


Indian Ocean 

\ 

s^outh Pacific 


Figure 9. Preliminary Map of “one belt and one road”246 


2, Establishing Diplomatic and Economic Partners in Southeast Asia 

China is motivated to collaborate with Southeast Asian countries because there 
are economic incentives for the region to benefit from the growth and development. 
China’s “one belt and one road” and “maritime silk road” initiatives help to provide it 
with the opportunity to build up its arsenal of diplomatic and economic partnerships in 
the region. Establishing strong partnerships, therefore, will help to integrate and improve 
not only China’s economic progress, but the region’s as well. China reported that the 
launch of the China-ASEAN Eree Trade Area (CAFTA) in 2010 has been the most 
significant measure and achievement for China-ASEAN economic cooperation and 
trade.247 Eurthermore, it was also the first free trade area that was negotiated by China 
with other foreign countries, and it was the largest free trade area developed among 


Billy Wong, ‘“One Belt, One Road’ Initiative: Implications for Hong Kong,” HKTDC Research, 
April 16, 2015, http://economists-pick-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/Research-Articles/One- 
Belt-One-Road-Initiative-The-Implications-for-Hong-Kong/rp/en/l/lXOOOOOO/lXOA23WV.htm; Billy 
Wong is listed as a Principal Economist for Greater China. 

242 China Daily, “China-ASEAN Cooperation.” 


55 




developing eountries As a result, bilateral trade and eeonomie ties eontinued to grow 
stronger. The bilateral trade volume in 2011 was 292.78 billion (USD).249 By 2013, it 
had reaehed 443.61 billion (USD), and it is projeeted for 500 billion (USD) by the end of 
2015 and one trillion by 2020.^50 China’s Viee Premier Zhang Gaol! announeed in 2014 
that China also seeks to upgrade CAFTA in 2015 to improve its quality and 
performanee.2^1 He reported that the two sides should “open the market wider, reduee 
tariffs, and earry out a new round of negotiation on serviee trade eommitments.”^^^ China 
is also eneouraging its domestie eompanies to invest in ASEAN and weleomes the same 
for ASEAN eompanies in China.^^^ China is ASEAN’s largest trading partner, and 
ASEAN has risen to China’s third largest trading partner. ^54 xhe result of this eeonomie 
buildup has been stronger eeonomie ties between the two regions and will perhaps further 
aid the region overall. As explained in the baekground seetion, the rise in piraey in 
Southeast Asia has partially been a result of eeonomie issues in the region. Perhaps if the 
region as a whole ean benefit from the growth and development from these eeonomie 
partnerships, piraey may also beeome less of an issue. 

Building more interdependent eeonomie partnerships with individual eountries 
may also help lead to more eooperation on issues sueh as eounter-piraey. Eeonomie 
interdependenee is an intrieate and symmetrieal eeonomie relationship between two 
eountries.In other words, the linkage between the eountries is stronger when one 
eountry does not rely more on the other. Countries beeome eeonomieally interdependent 
upon one another through symmetrieal partnerships via bilateral eommereial trade and 


China Daily, “China-ASEAN Cooperation.” 

249 Ibid. 

250 Mengjie, “China Eyes Upgraded China-ASEAN ETA.” 

251 Ibid. 

252 Ibid. 

253 Ibid. 

254 Ibid. 

255 Erili Gartzke and Quan Li, “Measure For Measure: Concept Operationalization and the Trade 
Interdependence-Conflict Debate,” Journal of Peace Research 40, no. 5 (2003), 554, doi: 10.1 111! 
00223433030405004. 


56 



investments.256 Therefore, material incentives such as trade are mutually beneficial 
interactions, giving each country a stake in the others’ economic well-being and 
encouraging coordination rather than conflict, because conflict of any kind would 
threaten the economy of both countries.”257 Coordinating on counter-piracy in the region 
will not only help to mitigate the problem but also, help to safeguard economic progress. 

To prove whether economic interdependence leads to better cooperation, the 
following case study will examine China’s economic interdependence with two countries 
in Southeast Asia affected by piracy and determine whether their tightly linked economic 
partnerships have led to better cooperation. Two countries that are greatly affected by 
piracy in Southeast Asia are Singapore and Indonesia. Singapore sits at the mouth of the 
Straits and is one of the busiest ports in the world. With several thousand islands, 
Indonesia spreads out over Southeast Asia and its western coast also sits near the Straits. 
Both countries are economic trading partners with China. 

Bilateral trade between Singapore and China proves to be stronger than bilateral 
trade between Indonesia and China. China is Singapore’s number one trading partner for 
both imports and exports and Singapore ranks II out of 15 of China’s top trading 
partners.258 China is Indonesia’s top trading partner for its imports but falls behind Japan 
as its second largest export destination.259 Indonesia is fifteenth on China’s list of top 
trading partners, which means that there is a difference of four rankings and almost 10 
billion dollars between Indonesia and Singapore as trading partners with China.260 Xo 
further calculate the trade share, bilateral exports and imports is added and then divided 


256 Benjamin E. Goldsmith, “A Liberal Peace in Asia?” Journal of Peace Research 44, no. 1 (2007), 
18, doi: 10.1177/0022343307072427. 

257 Bruce M. Russett and John R. Oneal, Triangulating Peace: Democracy, Interdependence, and 
International Organizations (New York: Norton, 2001), 129, 270. 

258 “Singapore,” Observatory of Economic Complexity, n.d., 
https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/sgp/; Daniel Workman, “China’s Top Import Partners,” 
World’s Top Exports, May 17, 2015, http://www.worldstopexports.com/chinas-top-import-partners. The 
source for this data is IMF. 

259 “Indonesia,” Observatory of Economic Complexity, n.d., 
https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/idn/. 

260 Workman, “China’s Top Import Partners.” 


57 



by total trade, which is two percent for China and 12 percent for Singapore.These 
percentages are important in determining the mutual dependence of these two nations. To 
calculate the economic interdependence between China and Singapore, the sum of 
bilateral trade is determined and then divided by the gross domestic product (GDP). The 
economic interdependence for these two countries is the lowest variable of the two 
numbers, which is 0.7 percent.262 Indonesia’s bilateral trade with China is 1.1 percent for 
China and fourteen percent for Indonesia. The economic interdependence is 0.5 percent. 
The data reveals that the variation between Singapore and China’s bilateral trade versus 
Indonesia and China’s bilateral trade, as well as the higher percentage of economic 
interdependence, shows that Singapore and China are more economically interdependent. 

The percentages for bilateral trade and economic interdependence between the 
two groups may be marginally different but the overall value of the partnership makes 
sense not only from a trade perspective but also, from an investment standpoint. 
Singapore not only has a close connection with China as overall trade partners but also, 
Singapore is ranked six out of 10 of China’s top countries it invests in.263 Indonesia does 
not rank as one of China’s top destinations for investment.264 Singapore also made the 
list as number seven out of 10 in 2014 for China’s top property investment.265 For its 
size, Singapore has a very large imprint on the global economy. Compared to Indonesia, 
Singapore is significantly smaller with a population of 5.4 million and a GDP that is 
around 298 billion (USD). ^66 Indonesia’s population is roughly 250 million and its GDP 


Gartzke and Li, “Measure for Measure,” 555. Data was collected from the International Trade 

Centre. 

262 Ibid. 

263 Daniel Workman, “China’s Top Import Partners.” The source for this data is the IMF; “Top 10 
Countries for Chinese Investments,” CNBC, May 24, 2012, http://www.cnbc.com/id/47512207; “China 
Global Investment Tracker,” The Heritage Foundation, 2014, http://www.heritage.org/research/projects/ 
china-global-investment-tracker-interactive-map. 

264 CNBC, “Top 10 Countries for Chinese Investments.” 

265 Peter Scully, “The 10 Most Popular Countries for Chinese Property Investors,” NUWIRE Investor, 
August 25, 2014, http ://www.nuwireinvestor.com/articles/the-10-most-popular-countries-for-chinese- 
property-investors-62047.aspx. 

266 “Data,” The World Bank, 2015, http://data.worldbank.org/country. 


58 



is 868.3 billion (USD).267 Despite its size, Singapore’s bilateral trade and trade balance 
with China has remained significantly more stable and abundant, in some instances 
almost doubling Indonesia.268 a recent research report shows that the variation in 
bilateral trade between Singapore and China illustrates a pattern of a stable and strong 
economic partnership. Table 1 illustrates the patterns of bilateral trade and trade balance 
between China and both Singapore and Indonesia as well as the percentage of that trade 
as a share of ASEAN. The data shows that China and Singapore have maintained a strong 
economic partnership. 


267 World Bank “Data.” 

268 Nargiza Salidjanova and lacob Koch-Weser, China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-by- 
Country Analysis, Staff Research Report (Washington, DC: U.S.-China-Economic and Security Review 
Commission, 2015), 5, http://origin.www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/China’s%20Economic%20 
Ties%20with%20ASEAN.pdf 


59 



Table 1. China’s Bilateral Trade With Singapore and Indonesia (US$ 

Billions)^®^ 



US$ Million 

Share of ASEAN (%) 

1998 

2003 

2008 

2013 

1998 

2003 

2008 

2013 

High-Income 


Exports 

3,901 

8,873 

32,325 

45,886 

35.70% 

28.70% 

28.30% 

18.80% 

Singapore 

Imports 

4,226 

10,486 

20,092 

29,969 

33.60% 

22.10% 

17.20% 

15.00% 


Balance 

-325 

-1,613 

12,233 

15,918 





Middle-Income 


Exports 

1,172 

4,482 

17,210 

36,947 

10.70% 

14.50% 

15.10% 

15.10% 

Indonesia 

Imports 

2,462 

5,754 

14,387 

31,479 

19.60% 

12.20% 

12.30% 

15.80% 


Balance 

-1,290 

-1,272 

2,823 

5,469 







There are other values that help to eontribute to economie interdependenee 
besides trade and investments sueh as the reliance on shipping traffic. Singapore and 
China both rely heavily on one another as major shipping hubs. Both China and 
Singapore rank in the top 10 as countries with the largest container fleets.Since 1986, 
Singapore has been and remains one of the busiest ports in the world, operating as a 
global hub for commercial traffic and receiving over 140,000 vessels a year.^^i Shanghai, 
along with six other Chinese ports, also ranks in the top 10 of the world’s top 50 


Salidjanova and Koch-Weser, China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN, 5. 

“Container Ship Fleet Size by Nationality of Proprietor in 2013,” Statista, 2015, 
http://www.statista.com/statistics/263858/container-ship-fleets-size-by-nationality-of-shipowners/. 

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore: A Premier Global Hub (Singapore: MPA, 
n.d.), http://www.mpa.gov.sg/sites/pdf/infokit2.pdf 


60 




container ports.Shanghai and Singapore have averaged about 30 million twenty-foot 
equivalent unit (TEU) in cargo capacity over the last three years.Two of Indonesia’s 
ports were listed but were numbers 22 and 46 out of 50, and only averaged six and 2.8 
million This evidence helps to show that two eountries such as Singapore and 

China that rely so heavily on the sea also rely on one another for their economie interests. 

The strong eeonomic partnership between China and Singapore should to 
motivate maritime eooperation on non-traditional security threats such as counter-piracy. 
Both countries recently eoncluded an inaugural bilateral exercise called “Exercise 
Maritime Cooperation 2015,” emphasizing coordination, mutual trust, and mutual 
understanding.275 Zhang Mingqiang, commander of PLAN’S task force, commented on 
the experience noting “I think that the two navies can enhance cooperation in the areas of 
information sharing, humanitarian reseue, and taekling with untraditional security 
threats.”276 This exercise, especially since it will be condueted annually, shows initiative 
by both navies to work towards stronger ties at sea in the Asia region. Singapore and 
China also both participated in counter-piraey operations in the multilateral maritime 
exercise Rim of the Paeifie (RIMPAC) this past year.277 Eurthermore, both countries are 
supporting members of ReCAAP and China sends manpower to assist at the ReCAAP 
Information Sharing Center (ISC) in Singapore. 

In eontrast, Indonesia and China have not conducted bilateral counter-piraey 
operations. Indonesia did participate in RIMPAC but has yet to join ReCAAP. One 
explanation for Indonesia’s laek of membership in ReCAAP is that it views the nature of 
piracy as less threatening because the attaeks are mostly petty erime; therefore, officials 


272 “Top 50 World Container Ports,” World Shipping Council, 2015, http://www.worldshipping.org/ 
about-the-industry/global-trade/top-50-world-container-ports. 

273 Ibid. 

274 Ibid. 

275 Miou Song, “Singapore, Chinese Navies Conclude Inaugural Bilateral Naval Exercise,” X/n/zMa, 
May 25, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.eom/english/2015-05/25/c_134269156.htm. 

276 Ibid. 

277 McAvoy, “China Joins Counter-Piracy Part.” 

61 



do not think that it will have a great impact on its national interests Furthermore, 
many of the attacks in Indonesia waters are foreign ships.With that said, the Indonesia 
government has been reluctant to spend money to protect foreign ships.This case 
study clarifies that Singapore and China are more interconnected than Indonesia and 
China. The evidence also shows that there can be a link between economic 
interdependence and cooperation. 

Indonesia is working to build up its logistical capabilities such as fixing its 
congested ports, building up infrastructure, and making its logistics system more efficient 
to help its economy become more competitive.^^! Over the period of 1999-2008, 
Indonesia’s share of exports to total GDP was 28 percent, while Singapore’s was 150 
percent. To further aid its economy, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, stated in a 
recent interview that he is determined to seek clarity on the “maritime silk road” effort 
and “open its doors to Chinese investments and significantly strengthen bilateral 
economic ties.”^^^ He further states that if the cooperation can benefit both Indonesia’s 
national interests as well as China’s, then he is onboard.^^^ With piracy on the rise, 
specifically affecting Indonesia the most, perhaps we can expect to see more coordination 
and cooperation on counter-piracy operations between Indonesia and China in the future 
as they work more closely together politically and economically. 

Piracy in the region provides China with not only the opportunity to strengthen 
economic ties and to safeguard its economic interests but also, the interdependence helps 
China and the region to collectively benefit from the economic progress and developing 

Xu Ke, “Myth and Reality: The Rise and Fall of Contemporary Maritime Piracy in the South China 
Sea,” in Maritime Security in the South China Sea, ed. Shicun Wu and Keyuan Zou (England: Ashgate, 
2009), 90-91. 

279 Xu, “Myth and Reality,” 91. 

280 Ibid. 

281 Center of Logistics and Supply Chain Studies et at. State of Logistics Indonesia 2013 (Indonesia: 
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO Switzerland, 2013), 2, 4, http://www-wds.worldbank.org/ 
extemal/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/09/04/000333037_20130904115439/Rendered/PDF/8 
08710WP01ogis0Box0379822B00PUBLIC0.pdf 

282 Zuraidah Ibrahim, “Indonesia to Throw Open Doors to Chinese Investment; Seeks Details on 
Maritime Silk Road,” South China Morning Post, last modified April 21, 2015, http://www.scmp.com/ 
news/asia/article/1746628/widodo-aims-use-china-visit-boost-ties-and-seek-details-maritime-silk-road. 

283 Ibid. 


62 



partnerships. Economic interdependence, therefore, could help to alter the effects of 
piracy in the region by developing more intertwined economic partnerships that provide 
growth, development, and stability to the region and in turn could lead to more 
cooperation among the countries to combat the issue. Based on the data from this section, 
it seems as if China is taking advantage of this opportunity. 

3. Escorting All Ships To Build Economic Partnerships 

As stated in Section C, research suggests that PLAN ships do not appear to be in 
the region conducting counter-piracy operations. Therefore, there is little data to suggest 
that PLAN ships are conducting escort missions through the region. One possibility is 
that private firms provide armed escorts. Lor example, a Singapore-based maritime 
security company called Zycraft provides escorts for vessels transiting through the 
region.284 An additional private company called Malacca Straits Maritime Security also 
provides security escorts.^^^ One possible explanation is that there is not sufficient room 
for naval escorts through the Straits.^^® The Strait of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca 
both have traffic separation schemes to direct vessel traffic; however, these TSSs are very 
different than the TSS in the GOA because they are much more narrow and congested. 
The GOA TSS is in open-ocean, which means that the GOA TSS has ample room for 
larger navy ships to conduct escorts. Moreover, traditionally, the escorts are conducted 
with not just one merchant ship, but multiple. Transiting through high-risk areas as a 
group is safer; therefore, the escort missions generally involve more than two ships. 
Multiple ships traveling closely together in group transits in the Southeast Asia region 
would be challenging and dangerous because on either side of the TSS in the Straits, 
there are numerous ships at anchor or loitering waiting for pilots to pull into port. To 
escort one ship at a time seems like an impractical use of a naval asset and would require 
more ships to be deployed to the area to account for such a high traffic area. It seems 
more appropriate for the ships to hire escorts than to rely on navy escort missions. 


284 “Welcome to Zycraft,” Zycraft, 2014, http://www.zycraft.com/AboutUs.html. 

285 Xu, “Myth and Reality,” 88. 

286 This statement is based off the authors experience transiting through this region. 


63 



Therefore, a reason why China may not be eondueting eseorts in the region is beeause 
they do not seem practieal for this region when private companies are available for hire. 

E, COOPERATION, SECURITY, PEACE, AND TO BE VIEWED AS A 

GOOD GLOBAL CITIZEN 

China’s interest in non-traditional security (NTS) issues such as counter-piracy 
may suggest that this is a vital strategic opportunity to enhance China’s relations with 
other countries and establish peace and security. This section builds on the economic 
section, which showed that economic interdependence could lead to cooperation, by 
discussing other ways that countries can foster cooperation, build mutual trust on 
common interests, and work towards international norms at sea. This section focuses on 
what we can expect to see China doing to bolster cooperation in the region such as 
cooperating with other navies, participating with organizations that fight piracy, and 
increasing its role in the global society. 

1. Cooperating with Other Navies 

One of the ways China has worked to reinforce cooperation in the Southeast Asia 
region is by hosting the 2014 Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Beijing where several 
countries came together to discuss a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.^^^ The 
purpose of the symposium was to have an agreed upon standard of safety at sea, basic 
communication, and cooperation.^^s CUES is more than just an agreement to cooperate at 
sea, but also a tool for ships to communicate and maneuver at sea. The publication 
contains standardized signals that ships use to pass to one another via bridge-to-bridge 
radio to coordinate maneuvering intentions. 

China recently reiterated its eagerness for cooperation and coordination to utilize 
CUES by sending several of its naval officers to the Surface Warfare Officer School 
(SWOS) in Newport, Rhode Island in Eebruary 2015. The PEAN’s prospective 
Commanding Officers (PCOs) attended a brief where several of the U.S. Navy’s 
prospective Commanding Officers and the SWOs staff discussed the benefits of CUES 

287 gj-jQ Auner, “New Western Pacific Naval Code.” 

288 Ibid, 


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and how it works in reality.289 xhe brief also ineluded the U.S. Navy’s standard operating 
proeedures for how the United States conducts non-traditional security operations at sea 
such as counter-piracy operations. The visit concluded with ship-to-ship exercises 
between both countries POCs in the simulator. The CUES were put into action as both 
navies established communication, stated maneuvering intentions and passing 
arrangements, and executed several tactical maneuvers. In a letter to the Chief of Naval 
Operations (CNO), PLAN Admiral Wu Shengli expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm 
regarding the experience in Newport for his officers. He wrote the following in his letter: 

This type of face-to-face interaction is of great actual significance. It will 
definitely play a positive role for the development of new-type U.S.-China 
naval relations...! hope that we will continue to join hands to promote 
mutual trust and understanding between our two navies and effectively 
avoid misunderstanding, misjudgment and unexpected incidents at sea.290 

There are plans for later in the year where several U.S Navy PCOs will travel to China to 
continue bilateral training on CUES and further U.S.-China coordination. 

A delegation of PLAN commanding officers visiting the United States is just one 
of three “firsts” this past year that Admiral Wu Shengli alluded to in his letter to Admiral 
Greenert. The United States attended the annual conference of the Western Pacific Naval 
Symposium hosted by China and then China attended the International Sea Power 
Symposium hosted by the United States where both countries jointly signed CUES.291 
The third exchange with the United States in the past year was China’s first participation 
in RIMPAC. The purpose of RIMPAC is to enhance cooperation of multiple navies at sea 
and improve individual war-fighting competence. Multilateral exercises such as RIMPAC 
and the utilization of CUES, which highlight cooperation, communication, and 
coordination, help to prevent future escalation of force and miscommunication especially 
when tensions are high.292 China, along with 21 other countries, conducted various naval 


289 A SWOs staff member provided the information about this meeting to the author. 

290 Shengli Wu, Commander, PLA Navy, “Letter to Admiral Greenert,” March 27, 2015. 

291 Wu, “Letter to Admiral Greenert.” 

292 McAvoy, “China Joins Counter-Piracy Part.” 

65 



exercises under the auspices of RIMPAC to include counter-piracy operations.China 
designated four ships and two helicopters for the training. ^94 ^ Chinese reporter 
interviewed Zhang Junshe, an associate researcher from the Military Academy Research 
Institute of the PLA Navy, in regards to China’s participation in RIMPAC. Zhang stated, 
“Cooperation overpowers divergence and participation consolidates goodwill. ”^95 He 
goes on to state that the Chinese and U.S. militaries are entering into a new period of 
development where an appropriate relationship between two militaries to correspond has 
been established.^^® 

CUES, as well as exercises such as RIMPAC, are important especially for a 
region such as Southeast Asia where there is a high volume of maritime traffic and 
congestion, and ships will need to communicate more frequently. Furthermore, this 
region is already tense due to the current sovereignty issues in the South China Sea; 
therefore, these methods to communicate more effectively and prevent unnecessary 
escalation of force at sea are useful for this region. China’s initiative to invest time and 
energy into CUES, as well as its participation in RIMPAC suggests that China is eager to 
cooperate to combat piracy in the region. 

2. Participating with Organizations That Fight Piracy 

The counter-piracy exercises help to show China’s commitment to coordinate 
with other navies on piracy in the region but also, China is participating with 
organizations that are geared for coordination and cooperation to combat piracy in 
Southeast Asia. China is a contracting party of ReCAAP.297 xhe ReCAAP agreement 


John Sorensen, “RIMPAC Concludes with Enhanced Cooperation Among 22 Nations,” 
Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, July 31, 2014, http://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/030454. 

Audrey McAvoy, “China Joins Counter-Piracy RIMPAC Drills off Hawaii,” Associated Press, 
July 17, 2014, http://www.staradvertiser.eom/news/breaking/20140717_ChinaJoins_counterpiracy_ 
RIMPAC_drills_off_Hawaii.html?id=267513521; “RIMPAC 2014: Participating Vessels by Country,” 
Naval-technology.com, July 8, 2014, http://www.naval-technology.com/features/featurerimpac-2014- 
participating-vessels-by-country-4312822/. 

Desheng Lv, “Dialectical View on China’s Participation in ‘RIMPAC 2014,”’ China Military 
Online, July 14, 2014, http://eng.mod.gov.cn/0pinion/2014-07/14/content_4522080.htm. 

296 Ibid. 

297 Miha Hribemik, Countering Maritime Piracy, 4. 

66 



was launched in 2006 in Singapore to promote and enhanee eooperation against piraey 
and armed robbery in Asia.^^^ China is one of the original sixteen eontraeting partners, 
eurrently there are 19, and as stated previously in the ehapter it also provides manpower 
to ReCAAP’s information Sharing Centre in SingaporeChina is also one of the only 
eountries that has eonsistently eontributed funds annually to the organization sinee its 
inoeption.300 ReCAAP serves to faeilitate information sharing and eommunieation, 
eapability building, and eooperation with organizations and similar minded parties on 
joint exeroises.3*'! It has also beeome one of the eomerstones of eounter-piraey efforts in 
Southeast Asia.302 China’s eommitment to ReCAAP illustrates its eoneern to eombat the 
issue in the area and help provide the neeessary resourees to do so. 

China is also an original partieipant of Heads of Coast Guards Ageneies Meetings 
(HACGAM). This forum was initiated in 2004 by many of the Coast Guard Ageneies in 
Asia to diseuss eooperation on eounter-piraey in the region.303 xhe seope of the 
diseussions has been expanded to inelude various maritime seeurity risks, law 
enforeement, and disaster prevention and relief The 19 eountries that partieipate in 
HACGAM meet annually along with representatives from ReCAAP.^os There have been 


298 “About ReCAAP ISC,” Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed 
Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre, 2011, http://www.recaap.org/ 
AboutReCAAPISC.aspx. 

Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia 
Information Sharing Centre, “Report by the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre for the Ninth Meeting of 
the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea,” 
(Singapore: ReCAAP ISC, 2007), http://www.un.org/depts/los/consultative_process/mar_sec_ 
submissions/recaap.pdf; “News and Press Releases,” ReCAAP ISC, n.d., http://www.recaap.org/ 
AboutReCAAPISC/NewsandPressReleases.aspx. 

300 ReCAAP ISC, “About ReCAAP ISC.” 

301 Ibid. 

302 Ibid. 

303 Rajeev Sharma, “Policing the High Seas,” The Diplomat, October 3, 2012, 
http://thediplomat.com/2012/10/policing-the-high-seas/. 

304 Ibid. 

305 Ibid. 


67 



10 meetings thus far, and the sixth meeting was hosted in Shanghai in 2010.^®® This 
evidence helps to show that by hosting an event and not just attending China has elevated 
its interest in this organization and its objectives. 

China is a participant of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARE) and has been since 
its inception in 1994.307 ARE is dedicated to “foster[ing] constructive dialogue and 
consultation on political and security issues of common interest and concern; and to make 
significant contributions to efforts towards confidence-building and preventative 
diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.”308 ARE implemented the Statement on 
Cooperation against Piracy and Other Threats to Maritime Security in 2003 at the 10th 
ARE Post-Ministerial Conference.309 xhe document regards maritime security as “an 
indispensible and fundamental condition for the welfare and economic security of the 
ARE region.”3io The most recent meeting was in 2014 when all 24 of the participants 
including China reiterated their support to the commitment of strengthening coordination 
and coherence on traditional and non-traditional security issues in the region.^n China’s 
dedication to ARE is another example of its embedded ties with the ASEAN region and 
the level of support it is willing to provide to work towards more cooperation on piracy. 

These organizations are specific to this region but they also coordinate in 
conjunction with other organizations such as the International Maritime Bureau, the 


306 “joth Heads of Asian Coast Guards Agencies Meeting Opens,” Voice of Vietnam, last modified 
September 30, 3014, http://english.vov.vn/Politics/10th-Heads-of-Asian-Coast-Guards-Agencies-Meeting- 
opens/281944.vov; Deepak Raj Sharma, “8th Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting,” Friends of 
WMU Japan 41 (December 2012), http://www.wmu.sof.or.jp/PDF/newsletter41.pdf 

307 “About the ASEAN Regional Forum,” ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), 2011, 
http://aseanregionalforum.asean.org/about.html. 

308 Ibid. 

309 ASEAN Regional Forum, “ARF Statement on Cooperation against Piracy and Other Threats to 
Maritime Security,” in The Tenth ASEAN Regional Forum (Cambodia: ARF, 2003), 269, 
http://aseanregionalforum.asean.org/files/ARF-Publication/ARF-Document-Series-1994-2006/ 

10_Cambodia2006.pdf 

310 Ibid. 

311 “Chairman’s Statement of the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum,” ASEAN Regional Forum, August 
10, 2014, http://aseanregionalforum.asean.org/files/library/ARF%20Chairman’s%20Statements%20and 
%20Reports/The%20Twentyfirst%20ASEAN%20Regional%20Forum,%202013 -2014/01 %20-%20 
Chairman’s%20Statement%20oH4)20the%2021st%20ASEAN%20Regional%20Forum,%20Nay%20Pyi 
%20Taw.pdf 


68 



International Maritime Organization, and the International Criminal Police Organization 
(INTERPOL). The number of organizations that support counter-piracy in the region 
represents the degree to which the region has put emphasis on addressing the piracy 
issue. China’s move to join these organizations especially at their onset, as well as its 
continued support and dedication to them, suggests that China is eager to cooperate on 
counter-piracy issues in the region. 

3, Increasing Its Role in Global Society 

China seeks to increase its role in the global society not only by participating with 
other navies and counter-piracy organizations but also, by declaring that cooperation on 
maritime security is an important part of its national defense strategy. Counter-piracy 
operations in Southeast Asia are not specifically mentioned in China’s 2012 or 2015 
Defense White Papers but it is still evident that maritime security is important to China. 
In the most recent 2015 Defense White Paper, the word piracy is not used at all, but 
China reiterates its devotion to traditional and non-traditional maritime security. ^12 China 
expresses its intent to do its utmost to “shoulder more international responsibilities and 
obligations, provide more public security goods, and contribute more to world peace and 
common development. ”313 in order to achieve this, China states that it intends to work 
jointly to secure SLOCs, participate in both regional and international security 
cooperation initiatives to maintain regional and world peace, deepen military relations, 
and encourage the establishment of a regional framework for security and cooperation.3i4 
China’s participation with CUES is evidence that its intentions are already in motion. 
According to China Military Online, China’s agreement on initiatives such as CUES 

312 xhe People’s Republic of China, “I. National Security Situation,” in China’s Military Strategy 
(White Paper), ed. Tao Zhang (Beijing: State Council Information Office, 2015), http://eng.mod.gov.cn/ 
Press/2015-05/26/content_4586805.htm. 

313 xhe People’s Republic of China, “VI, Military and Security Cooperation,” in China’s Military 
Strategy (White Paper), ed. Tao Zhang (Beijing: State Council Information Office, 2015), 
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Press/2015-05/26/content_4586805_6.htm. 

314 The People’s Republic of China, “11. Missions and Strategic Tasks of China’s Armed Forces,” in 
China’s Military Strategy (White Paper), ed. Tao Zhang (Beijing: State Council Information Office, 2015), 
http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Press/2015-05/26/content_4586805_2.htm; The People’s Republic of China, “HI, 
Strategic Guideline of Active Defense,” in China’s Military Strategy (White Paper), ed. Tao Zhang 
(Beijing: State Council Information Office, 2015), http://eng.mod.gov.cn/Press/2015- 
05/26/content_4586805_3.htm; PRC, “Sections VI. China’s Military Strategy.” 


69 



shows that China desires to be a good global eitizen and promotes trust among 
international naviesChina seems to be reiterating to the world that it wants to 
eooperate and eontribute to the safety, peace, and good order at sea in terms of maritime 
security. Piracy in the region may not be specifically discussed but as a security issue, 
China seems intent on eradicating threats that hinder its national interests. 

F. CONCLUSION 

China may not be overtly conducting counter-piracy operations in this region, but 
its support for combating the issue is still evident by its eagerness to cooperate by 
participating in ReCAAP, providing manning and resources to the ISC, and consistently 
donating to the cause. China is also building and integrating its economic partnerships in 
the region and announcing its continued commitment to combat the security issue in its 
Defense White Papers. Therefore, of the three explanations, the first does not apply to the 
Southeast Asia region because it is not evident that PLAN is operating in the area for the 
purpose of challenging its rivals and establishing a geopolitical position. The two 
remaining explanations provide a better explanation for why China is involved in 
counter-piracy in the region. The research and evidence shows that China has put 
emphasis on economic progress in the region, which will substantially help the region 
and in turn could reduce the piracy issue. Stronger economic interdependence could also 
lead to more cooperation on combating the security issue. Furthermore, cooperation on a 
common security issue will help to build mutual trust and establish better ways to 
communicate, which could help to alleviate miscommunication and escalation of force at 
sea in the future where tensions already exist. Southeast Asia is a high-risk arena for 
China both politically and economically because the effects of piracy are closer to home 
and tensions with its neighbors make economics and cooperation key motivating factors 
to protecting its national interests in this region. 


ARF, “Chairman’s Statement of the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum.” 


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IV. CONCLUSION 


A. INTRODUCTION 

The GOA and Southeast Asia present two different arenas in terms of the nature 
of piracy. Piracy in the GOA involves the hijacking of ships and increasingly expensive 
ransoms. As a result, the international community’s response to counter-piracy operations 
is also different. The GOA has an organized task force dedicated to fighting piracy and 
receives assistance from independent deployers such as China. Conversely, piracy in 
Southeast Asia is mostly petty crimes involving stealing personal belongings and 
possibly siphoning fuel while ships are at anchor or moored in port. Southeast Asia does 
not have an organized task force from outside the region, but rather, the littoral states 
jointly patrol the region. Beyond this difference, the nature of piracy and the political 
arena in each region differs. These contrasts all help to clarify China’s differential 
behavior and motivations in the two regions. Of the three explanations evaluated in this 
thesis, the economic explanation made the most sense since it is important for China to 
safeguard its economic progress from the threats of piracy in both regions. The other two 
explanations, meeting its rivals and establishing a geopolitical position and cooperation, 
are not as prominent but still may be viewed as opportunities by Beijing. For example, 
counter-piracy operations have provided China with the opportunity to build-up a more 
capable naval presence in the GOA, but China does not seem to have a naval presence in 
Southeast Asia in terms of counter-piracy operations. China has also benefited militarily 
from increasing its cooperation with other navies and diplomatically by participating with 
counter-piracy organizations in both regions. This chapter will compare and contrast the 
three possible explanations in the two regions and conclude with China’s role in counter¬ 
piracy operations. Additionally, this chapter will discuss challenges of the research and 
possibilities for follow-on research. 

B, MAIN FINDINGS 

China’s role in counter-piracy depends on the region, and more than one 
explanation explains its behavior. In the GOA, all three explanations overlap and each 


71 



finds some support. In Southeast Asia, eeonomies and cooperation are the predominant 
themes. Economics seems to be the common denominator between the two case studies, 
which makes sense since piracy affects the international shipping lanes and therefore 
threatens global commerce. China’s behavior in both regions varies because the nature of 
piracy is different and the political arena is different. 

1. Meeting the Challenges of Its Rivals and Establishing a Geopolitical 
Position 

In terms of this first explanation, the two regions differ because China does not 
seem to be overtly conducting counter-piracy operations in Southeast Asia. One 
explanation is that China has been respectful of the wishes of the littoral countries in 
Southeast Asia, which seeks to avert international involvement in operations that are in, 
or close to, their territorial waters. Another explanation is that the Southeast Asia region 
is a higher risk area for China as it is closer to home and closer to countries that it already 
has tensions with as a result of its claims in the South China Sea. Along with existing 
tensions with ASEAN, China also has tension with the United States due to that country’s 
footprint in the region. Therefore, in terms of counter-piracy operations, China has not 
tried to challenge its rivals or establish a geopolitical position in Southeast Asia. Doing so 
may be too costly for China because it may hinder partnerships with both ASEAN and 
the United States, as well as negatively affect the overall security of that region. 

China neither has tensions with countries in the GOA nor has tensions with rivals 
such as the United States in that particular region. Diplomatically and militarily, it makes 
sense for China to take advantage of the opportunities that operating in the GOA 
presents. China will not lose greatly from a loss of partnership with Somalia. Moreover, 
Somalia can only benefit from its increasing partnership with China, as it has been at the 
top, or near the top, of the Eragile State Index for several years now.^i® Somalia needs 
support from the international community, which is why the counter-piracy task force 
was organized. Operating in the GOA, therefore, has provided China with a low-risk 
opportunity and justification to build up, train, and test its naval capabilities. Counter- 

Messner, “Failed States Index 2014.” 


72 



piracy has enabled the PLAN to beeome more profieient at far seas operations sueh as 
resupplying its ships, helieopter operations, and taetieal maneuvering. These lessons 
learned ean further be applied to various exereises sueh as MOOTW, whieh ean be useful 
in near seas operations to proteet China’s national interests. 

It seems that China seeks to be more of a blue water navy that ean operate in the 
far seas, and the GOA lends more opportunity for this possibility than Southeast Asia. It 
seems as if China wants to prove that its navy is no less eapable than any other. China 
also wants to benefit from the international eommunity and have a voice; therefore, to 
aecomplish these goals, it built-up and modernized its forees. The GOA was a low risk 
opportunity for China to establish that it eould sueeessfully operate further from its 
shores to eonduet eounter-piraey operations, protect the SLOCs and its eommeree traffie, 
and respond to various seeurity ehallenges in a similar fashion to other sea powers. In this 
sense, China may be following a Mahanian philosophy in beeoming a sea power that is 
eapable of preserving and proteeting its own interests. 

2. Safeguarding Economic Interests 

China has strong intentions of pursuing eeonomie growth and proteeting its 
eeonomie interests in both regions. Costs attributed to pirate attaeks have esealated due to 
rerouting eosts, higher insuranee premiums, and private seeurity teams. There has also 
been an inerease in trade flow loss and trade eosts due to piraey in the GOA. These 
figures are not readily available yet for Southeast Asia but the numbers should not be as 
high due to the nature of piracy in that region. Piracy in Southeast Asia tends to be more 
petty erime compared to the high ransom attaeks in the GOA; however, the number of 
attaeks has been rising in Southeast Asia. Both regions also provide opportunities to 
expand trade, expand eeonomie partners, and expand eeonomie progress. China’s 
involvement with eounter-piraey makes sense in terms of eeonomies beeause piracy 
threatens the major SLOCs and the merehant traffie traveling through these regions. 

The differenee between the two regions is the level of eeonomie interdependence. 
The case studies illustrate that China is more intertwined with eountries in ASEAN sueh 
as Singapore than it is with Afriea or speoifieally, Somalia; therefore, safeguarding its 


73 



economic interests in Southeast Asia is more vital. The level of economic 
interdependence with ASEAN would suggest that China would be more involved with 
counter-piracy operations, but we see the opposite in this region. The difference is the 
nature of China’s political and economic relationship with ASEAN versus its relationship 
with Africa. Moreover, there is an added risk if China were to engage with counter-piracy 
operations in Southeast Asia. Operating in Southeast Asia may risk China’s partnerships 
with ASEAN and possibly cause further tension with the United States. China’s 
economic ties with Africa and Somalia are increasing, but they are asymmetrical 
compared to the China-ASEAN partnerships. Economic interests in the GOA then are 
more of an opportunity and less essential than those in Southeast Asia. 

Stronger economic partnerships can also lead to better cooperation on common 
security issues such as counter-piracy operations. This correlation is more apparent in 
Southeast Asia than in the GOA. China’s economic interdependence is stronger with 
ASEAN than it is with Somalia or Africa, and China has also experienced more 
cooperation on counter-piracy operations with countries such as Singapore. China and 
Somalia are increasing their economic partnership, but the partnership is far from 
interdependent. Somalia and most of the African nations also do not have navies, which 
is another reason why cooperation on counter-piracy is necessary at an international 
level. The build-up of economics can help both regions in the sense that all will benefit 
from growth and development. The major difference between the two regions, however, 
is the interconnected partnerships in terms of economics and cooperation that China has 
with ASEAN but does not yet have with the African nations. 

Therefore, economics is important in both cases because China desires to continue 
pursing economic growth and prosperity. China, as one of the largest trading partners in 
the world, has a vested interest in protecting vital SEOCs, maritime commerce, and the 
global economy from threats such as piracy. 


74 



3, Cooperation, Security, Peace, and to Be Viewed as a Good Global 
Citizen 

China’s operations at sea are still formal in nature and limited, meaning PLAN 
ships generally communicate minimally with other navy ships, and China is still not a 
member of CMF; however, the country is working to increase its level of cooperation in 
both regions. China is participating in formal bilateral and multilateral exercises with 
various navies and supporting organizations that combat piracy. In the GOA, China has 
formally rendezvoused with the EU as well as other CTF-151 ships from Singapore and 
the United States. Moreover, China invited foreign officers to meet onboard its ships, 
which shows further cooperation. China has also ratified and made an effort to train and 
effectively use CUES, which is an effective tool for Southeast Asia where tensions are 
already high. Organizations such as SHADE and ReCAAP have made an impact in their 
particular regions by gathering the various countries involved and facilitating 
collaboration, and China has dedicated its support to these groups as well as others. 
Furthermore, China has formally announced in its Defense White Papers that it is 
committed to cooperation on non-traditional security issues to help promote peace and 
that it wants to be viewed as a good global citizen. 

The difference in cooperation between the two regions is that China does not 
explicitly send a steady task force to Southeast Asia to counter piracy attacks like it does 
in the GOA. One possible explanation is that the littoral states in Southeast Asia prefer 
foreign navies not to intervene, whereas Somalia requires assistance. Also, naval assets 
seem impractical in such a congested region where patrol crafts and private escort 
companies are more fitting, compared to the GOA where there is open ocean and more 
room to maneuver. China does, however, continue to support the region politically by 
participating in counter-piracy organizations and economically by helping to boost 
growth and development. The cooperation between navies that does take place generally 
occurs outside of the Southeast Asia region, such as RIMPAC and CUES, but these 
training exercises could be applied to that region as well. 

Cooperation, security, peace, and being viewed as a good global citizen are 
important to China in both regions. It seems as if China has learned the benefits of 


75 



cooperation by enhancing its capabilities through bilateral and multilateral exercises. 
Specifically in Southeast Asia, where it is more congested and tensions are high, 
cooperation at sea is important. Better communication and coordination among navies 
could help to deescalate situations where there could be misinterpretations and suspicions 
and could provide a better code of conduct at sea. This explanation proves that even 
though China may want to rise to be a maritime power that can be a player in the 
international community, it does still seek cooperation on common issues such as piracy, 
because China would also benefit from peace and security. 

4. Conclusion 

China is involved with counter-piracy operations because it is a stepping-stone for 
a much larger maritime strategy. Counter-piracy operations have provided China 
opportunities politically, economically, and militarily. These opportunities have provided 
benefits for China such as building up a navy that is better trained, more capable, and 
likewise versatile. The operations have allowed China to not only expand economically 
but also, to protect its economic interests. Finally, cooperating with other navies has 
facilitated military preparedness through learning tactics, and China has also benefited 
from the collaboration efforts by many organizations, navies, and countries that are 
fighting piracy. China could get away with being a free-rider, but counter-piracy 
operations are important to China not only because piracy affects the international 
community as a whole but also, because it provides China with opportunities. 

C. CHALLENGES WITH RESEARCH 

There have been two major challenges with the research, which are the lack of 
transparency regarding China’s strategy and the inherent biases towards China’s maritime 
strategy. China’s Defense White Papers have provided some transparency but there are 
still lingering questions and concerns as to its overall maritime strategy. Therefore, 
scholars and researchers must try to infer what China’s strategy is based off its behavior 
and what is reported in the media. Historically, a rising power tends to make the current 
powers wary and cautious. Even though both the United States and China discuss peace 
and cooperation, both countries tend to be inherently suspicious of the other. China 

76 



recently commented on the Department of the Defense’s “Annual Report on Military and 
Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” saying that it has 
damaged the bilateral trust because the report disregarded the facts in terms of China’s 
military development and questioned its strategic intent.^i^ Conversely, even though 
China discusses peace and cooperation in its Defense White Papers, it also states that it 
will “resolutely take all necessary measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and 
territorial integrity.”3China’s actions in the South China Sea sometimes seem 
counterintuitive to its peaceful proclamations,^!^ but the United States pivot to the Pacific 
has also caused tensions with China. The mutual distrust and suspicion is often a result of 
misjudgment of the other country’s strategic intent and tends to cause the inherent biases 
in the rhetoric. 

D, OPTIONS FOR FOLLOW ON RESEARCH 

While counter-piracy operations have been relatively successful in the GOA 
region, the number of attacks has increased in the Southeast Asia region and perhaps the 
lessons learned in the GOA may prove to be successful in Southeast Asia. As the graphs 
illustrate in Chapters II and II, piracy in the GOA significantly decreased between 2011 
and 2012 from 237 attacks to 75 attacks.Since 2011, piracy attacks have increased in 
Southeast Asia from 101 attacks to over 149 attacks.^21 Piracy will most likely continue 
to exist as long as ships go to sea and as long as commerce is shipped via the sea. With 
that said, it is incumbent upon the international community to work together to fight the 
problem. The following lessons could help to pacify the problem: ReCAAP’s Information 
Sharing Centre does not function as skillfully as the various communication centers in the 
GOA; therefore, perhaps it could build up its reporting capabilities and become a 24-hour 

317 “7116 Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lashes Out at the U.S. Defense Department’s Annual 
Report on China’s Military Development, Accusing It of Ignoring Facts,” Open Source, May 10, 2015, 
CH02015051308318891. 

2!^ PRC, “I. New Situation, New Challenges.” 

2!!! Agence France-Presse, “Chinese Island-Building in South China Sea ‘May Undermine Peace,’ 

Says ASEAN,” The Guardian, April 26, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/27/chinese- 
island-building-in-south-china-sea-may-undermine-peace-says-asean. 

220 See Chapter II, footnotes 47 and 48. 

221 See Chapter III, footnotes 228-231. 


77 



center or the region could open a more sophistieated center.322 xhe region could also 
establish a corridor similar to the IRTC in the South China Sea to help focus patrols and 
establish check in requirements for the merchant ships similar to the GOA.323 Lastly, 
perhaps a similar concept to CTF-151 could be established that shares the responsibility 
of the patrols and takes some of the pressure off of the littoral states to mitigate the 
problem on their own.324 would be interesting to see if an ASEAN-led maritime force 
would be as successful in Southeast Asia as the CMF has been in the GOA.325 would 
also be intriguing to see if China would join this joint force since the thesis has revealed 
that piracy in this region has a greater impaet on China’s economic interests. 
Furthermore, if China did get involved with counter-piracy in Southeast Asia what would 
the implications be for U.S. policy? Would the United States also pursue counter-piracy 
operations in Southeast Asia like it did in the GOA? If so, it would be interesting to see if 
the operations would help or hinder the U.S-Sino relationship in an already crowded and 
contentious region. 


322 Joshua Ho, “Piracy in the South China Sea: Lessons from Gulf of Aden,” RSIS Commentaries, no. 
47/2011 (March 24, 2011), http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/C011047.pdf 

323 i5i(j 

324 Ibid. 

325 Euan Graham, “Expanding Maritime Patrols in Southeast Asia,” RSIS Commentaries, no. 082 
(April 7, 2015), http://www.rsis.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/C015082.pdf 


78 



APPENDIX. PLAN ESCORT TASK FORCES TO THE GOA 


Table 2. PLAN Escort Task Forces to the GOA 


ETF 

Fleet 

Vessel & Hull # 

Crew 

Depart 

Return 

Days 

Ports Visited 

Ships 

Escorted 

Groups 

Escorted 

1 

SSF 

Wuhan 169 

Haikou 171 
Weishanhu 887 

880 

12/26/08 

4/28/09 

124 

None 

212 

41 

2 

SSF 

Shenzhen 167 
Huangshan 570 
Weishanhu 887 

800 

4/2/09 

8/21/09 

142 

Pakistan 

393 

45 

3 

ESF 

Zhoushan 529 
Zuzhou 530 
Qiandaohu 886 

800 

7/16/09 

12/20/09 

158 

Singapore 

Malaysia 

Hong Kong 

582 

53 

4 

ESF 

Maanshan 525 
Wenzhou 526 
Qiandaohu 886 

700 

10/30/09 

4/23/10 

176 

UAE 

Saudi Arabia 
Philippines 

660 

46 

5 

SSF 

Guangzhou 168 
Hengyang 568 
Weishanhu 887 

No data 

3/4/10 

9/11/10 

192 

Egypt 

Italy 

Greece 

Myanmar 

588 

41 

6 

SSF 

Kunlunshan 998 
Lanzhou 170 
Weishanhu 887 

No data 

6/30/10 

1/7/11 

192 

Saudi Arabia 
Bahrain 

Sri Lanka 
Indonesia 

615 

49 

7 

ESF 

Zhoushan 529 
Xuzhou 530 
Qiandaohu 886 

780 

11/2/10 

5/9/11 

189 

South Africa 

Tanzania 

Seychelles 

(Singapore- 

docked) 

578 

38 


79 




Table 2. 


PLAN Escort Task Forces to the GOA (cont.) 


ETF 

Fleet 

Vessel & Hull # 

Crew 

Depart 

Return 

Days 

Ports Visited 

Ships 

Escorted 

Groups 

Escorted 

8 

ESF 

Maanshan 525 
Wenzhou 536 
Qiandaohu 886 

No data 

2/21/11 

8/28/11 

189 

Qatar 

Thailand 

507 

46 

9 

SSF 

Wuhan 169 

Yulin 569 
Qinghaihu 885 

878 

7/2/11 

12/24/11 

175 

Kuwait 

Oman 

Singapore 

280 

41 

10 

SSF 

Haikou 171 
Yuncheng 571 
Qinghaihu 885 

800 

11/2/11 

5/5/12 

186 

Mozambique 

Thailand 

240 

40 

11 

NSF 

Qingdao 113 
Yantai 538 
Weishanhu 887 

800 

2/27/12 

9/12 

191 

Ukraine 

Romania 

Turkey 

Bulgaria 

Israel 

184 

43 

12 

ESF 

Yiyang 548 
Changzhou 549 
Qiandaohu 886 

800 

7/3/12 

1/19/13 

201 

Vietnam 

Australia 

198 

45 

13 

SSF 

Hengyang 548 
Huangshan 570 
Qinghaihu 885 

800 

11/9/12 

5/23/13 

196 

Malta 

Algeria 

Morocco 

France 

Portugal 

166 

36 

14 

NSF 

Harbin 112 
Mianyang 528 
Weishanhu 887 

No data 

2/16/13 

9/28/13 

225 

Seychelles 

Singapore 

Thailand 

181 

63 

15 

SSF 

Jingangshan 999 
Hengshui 572 
Taihu 889 

800 

8/8/13 

1/23/14 

169 

Tanzania 

Kenya 

Sri Lanka 

181 

46 


80 




able 2, _ PLAN Escort Task Forces to the GOA (cont.) 


ETF 

Fleet 

Vessel & Hull # 

Crew 

Depart 

Return 

Days 

Ports Visited 

Ships 

Escorted 

Groups 

Escorted 

16 

NSF 

Yancheng 546 
Luoyang 527 

Taihu 889 

660 

11/30/13 

7/18/14 

231 

Tunisia 

Senegal 

Ivory Coast 

Nigeria 

Cameroon 

Angola 

Namibia 

South Africa 

130 

40 

17 

ESF 

Changehun 150 
Changzhou 549 
Chaohu 890 

810 

3/24/14 

10/22/14 

213 

Jordan 

UAE 

Iran 

Pakistan 

115 

43 

18 

SSF 

Changbaishan 

989 

Yuncheng 571 
Chaohu 890 

No data 

8/1/14 

No data 

No 

data 

No data 

No data 

No data 

19 

NSF 

Linyi 547 

Weifang 550 
Weishanhu 887 

700 

No data 

No data 

No 

data 

No data 

No data 

No data 

20 

ESF 

Jinan 

Yiyang 

Qiandaohu 886 

800 

4/3/2015 

TBD 

TBD 

TBD 

TBD 

TBD 


81 



THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEET BLANK 


82 



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