China is considering sending its navy to the coast of Somalia to support efforts to combat piracy, marking the first time China has sent its navy to Africa since Zheng He’s famous exploratory voyage in the 15th century, the Financial Times reported. More than 30 ships have been attacked by Somali pirates since late October, including a Chinese fishing vessel with a 30 person crew, which was freed on Wednesday. The UN Security Council has authorized states to attack pirates by sea or air. Chinese ships would join US, Indian, Russian, and EU task forces also combating piracy in the area. However, the number of ships and the degree of command integration is under question. A Western diplomat expressed hopes that China would send a destroyer and a supply ship, but analysts question whether the Chinese would be willing to put its ships under joint command, limiting the ability of China to cooperate effectively.
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