Zhang Deshun, former deputy chief of staff of the PLA navy, stated that the country harbors no ambitions to build military bases overseas, state media reported. Although the retired officer indicated that a Chinese naval force would take a greater role in UN-led anti-terrorism and anti-piracy missions, he also stated, "We have no agenda to set up military establishments, or threaten establishments of other nations overseas." Other officials have stated that the Chinese navy is capable of operating overseas missions without the need to establish foreign military bases. The statements came after speculation that China would establish foreign military bases to help defend its international shipping lines from pirates off the Somali coast. China has engaged in overseas operations since December 2008, escorting 1,677 Chinese and foreign merchant ships.
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