China has begun "secret" negotiations to free the cargo ship De Xin Hai and its crew from the clutches of Somali hijackers, the South China Morning Post reported. Chinese Shipowners’ Association secretary general Zhang Zuyue confirmed that the Chinese side is willing to pay a ransom. "The negotiation requires top-level secrecy. The outside world will not know the ransom amount," he said. He seemed impressed by the Somali pirates, who managed to evade pursuit from a Chinese naval task force and successfully reach their stronghold on the Somali coast. At this point, any military rescue would require China to mount a land invasion of the Somali coast. "The pirates of Somalia have got an upper hand in recent years with their huge organisation and changing tactics. They are a beaming new star in the history of piracy," said Zhang.