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Real deal: China\'s anti-piracy patrols

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COMMENTS

8 September 2010 16:06

Justin Jones is Navy Fellow at the Lowy Institute and is the maritime adviser to the MacArthur Foundation Lowy Institute Asia Security Project.

The recent flurry of commentary regarding China's rise and shifting power relativities in the Asia Pacific, led by the Lowy Institute's Power and Choice, analysed in Hugh White's Quarterly Essay and sensationalised by 60 Minutes, has been joined today with an article by the prominent US strategist Edward Luttwak on the ABC's The Drum. 

In an otherwise interesting piece that poses some valid questions pertaining to China's place in the international system as a provider of public goods, one comment had me confused. Luttwak asserts that, while other countries shoulder burdens in areas such as Afghanistan, China has not even been asked to contribute to anti-piracy patrols off Somalia.

While this assertion is narrowly correct (China hasn't been asked), it is worth highlighting that China does in fact conduct anti-piracy patrols off Somalia (see CNN report above). Moreover, China's ongoing deployments to the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa evolved to the extent that, earlier this year, China won approval to lead the coordination of international anti-piracy patrols in the area (previously highlighted by Rory Medcalf here).

China's commitment to maritime security off Somalia is commensurate with other nations that pursue the protection of resources transported by sea, including Australia. As Rory has argued frequently, China's anti-piracy deployments present an excellent opportunity for cooperation.

As long as there is a reported 'great leap' in defence ties with China, then perhaps the Gulf of Aden is a logical place to start with a structured maritime confidence-building program between our two navies, which might then be replicated in East Asia. Future papers in the MacArthur Foundation Lowy Institute Asia Security Project will explore this issue.

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