13 May 2014

China’s Anti-Piracy Mission in the Gulf of Aden: Implications for Anti-Piracy in the South China Sea

Andrew Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “China’s Anti-Piracy Mission in the Gulf of Aden: Implications for Anti-Piracy in the South China Sea,” in Wu Shicun and Zou Keyuan, eds., Non-Traditional Security Issues and the South China Sea: Shaping a New Framework for Cooperation (London: Ashgate, 2014), 169-204.

CHAPTER ABSRACT

The dramatic rise of piracy in the waters off Somalia in 2008, combined with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions designed to empower other nations to fight that piracy, presented China with an historic opportunity to deploy a naval force to the Gulf of Aden. This chapter examines the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Gulf of Aden mission and its implications for counter-piracy operations in the South China Sea.

The chapter has four substantial sections. It first examines the Gulf of Aden mission itself, mainly in terms of the PLAN’s anti-piracy capacity, rules of engagement, anti-piracy methods, situational awareness and control, logistics support, and cooperation with other navies. The second section then addresses the drivers behind China’s decision to send and sustain a naval force to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden, focusing primarily on the economic, political, and strategic motivations for the PLAN’s deployment. Third, it discusses the PLAN’s lessons learned and areas for improvement with regards to anti-piracy. The final section explores the broad implications of the Gulf of Aden missions for counter-piracy in the South China Sea by highlighting differences and similarities in major areas such as levels of piracy threat to shipping, regional capacity, and prospects for international cooperation.

VOLUME SUMMARY

While there is abundant literature discussing non-traditional security issues, there is little mention of such issues existing in the South China Sea. This area is vulnerable to natural hazards and marine environmental degradation. The marine ecosystem is threatened by various adverse sources including land-based pollution, busy shipping lanes, and over-exploitation activities which threaten the security of the surrounding population. This area is also threatened by piracy and maritime crimes but law enforcement becomes difficult due to unclear maritime boundaries. This volume is designed to explore the security cooperation and regional approaches to these non-traditional security issues in the hope to build a peaceful environment and maintain international and regional security and order in the South China Sea region.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Shicun Wu, PhD, is currently President of National Institute for South China Sea Studies. Visiting scholar to the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of John Hopkins University in 1998, to the Seminar on the Dynamics of US Foreign Policy-Regional Security sponsored by U.S. Government in 1999, and senior research fellow with Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in 2001, and the Harvard Kennedy School in 2008. His research focuses on history and geography on the South China Sea, ocean delimitation, international relations and regional security strategy. His main publication includes Maritime Security in the South China Sea: Regional Implications and International Cooperation (2009), Origin and Development of Spratly Disputes (2010), Collection of Literatures on the South China Sea Issues, A Bibliography of Research on the South China Sea, The Issue of the South China Sea Islands in the Time of the Republic of China (1911-1949), Contest on the South China Sea and Zheng He’s Voyages to the Indian Ocean, Historical background on the 1943 Sino-British New Treaty, On Relativity of Cognition of the History, The Foundation of Sino-ASEAN Free Trade Zone and Cross-Strait Commercial Relations, Imperative Task-the Exploitation of South China Sea Resources, etc.

Keyuan Zou is Harris Professor of International Law at the Lancashire Law School of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), United Kingdom. He specializes in international law, in particular law of the sea and international environmental law. Before joining UCLan, he worked in Dalhousie University (Canada), Peking University (China), University of Hannover (Germany) and National University of Singapore. He is Academic Advisor to the China National Institute for South China Sea Studies and the Centre for Ocean Law and Policy of the Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. He is member of the ESRC Peer Review College and the Commission on Environmental Law of IUCN. He has published over 60 refereed English papers in nearly 30 international journals and 8 single-authored and co-edited books. He is member of Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (Martinus Nijhoff), Ocean Development and International Law (Taylor & Francis), Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy (Taylor & Francis), and Chinese Journal of International Law (Oxford University Press), and Advisory Boards of the Chinese Oceans Law Review (Hong Kong: China Review Culture Limited), Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law (Brill) and Global Journal of Comparative Law (Brill).

RELATED ANALYSIS:

Andrew S. Erickson, “No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Anti-Piracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden,” Eight Bells Book Lecture, Naval War College Museum, Newport, RI, 27 February 2014.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Why China’s Gulf Piracy Fight Matters,” Global Public Square, CNN, 7 January 2014.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Parallel Progress, Positive Potential: Sino-American Cooperation to Further Sea Lane Security in the Gulf of Aden,” China International Strategy Review 2013 (English edition) (2013): 479-501.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Piracy’s Next Frontier: A Role for China in Gulf of Guinea Security?” The National Interest, 10 December 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Anti-Piracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden, Naval War College CMSI China Maritime Study 10 (November 2013).

Andrew Erickson and Austin Strange, “China and the International Antipiracy Effort,” The Diplomat, 1 November 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Pragmatic Partners, the Unsung Story of U.S.-China Anti-Piracy Coordination,” Guest Blog Post for Elizabeth C. Economy, Asia Unbound, Council on Foreign Relations, 24 October 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Sunk Costs: China and the Pirates,” The Diplomat, 26 September 2013.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Learning the Ropes in Blue Water: The Chinese Navy’s Gulf of Aden Deployments Have Borne Worthwhile Lessons in Far-Seas Operations—Lessons that Go Beyond the Antipiracy Mission,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 139.4 (April 2013): 34-38.

Andrew Erickson and Austin Strange, “‘Selfish Superpower’ No Longer? China’s Anti-Piracy Activities and 21st-Century Global Maritime Governance,” Harvard Asia Quarterly, 14.1/2 (Spring/Summer 2012): 92-102.

Andrew S. Erickson, “Chinese Sea Power in Action: the Counter-Piracy Mission in the Gulf of Aden and Beyond,” in Roy Kamphausen, David Lai, and Andrew Scobell, eds., The PLA at Home and Abroad: Assessing the Operational Capabilities of China’s Military (Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College and National Bureau of Asian Research, July 2010), 295-376.

Andrew S. Erickson and Justin D. Mikolay, “Welcome China to the Fight Against Pirates,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 135.3 (March 2009): 34-41.