04 August 2016

The China Anti-Piracy Bookshelf

Now that Amazon has just released the Kindle version of my book with Austin Strange on China’s ongoing anti-piracy efforts, achievements, and lessons learned in the Gulf of Aden, I wanted to compile our diverse publications and presentations to date on the subject in one convenient location accessible to all. Im also including an article that I published with my former Princeton graduate school classmate Justin Mikolay. It appeared in Naval Institute Proceedings back in March 2009—just as China was beginning this new mission in what, to Beijing, were then largely uncharted waters. Please find a complete set of links below.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, Six Years at Sea… and Counting: Gulf of Aden Anti-Piracy and China’s Maritime Commons Presence (Washington, DC: Jamestown Foundation, 2015).

Now available as a Kindle eBook!

Click here to purchase this book via Brookings Institution Press or from the Jamestown Store.

Six Years at Sea...& Counting--Gulf of Aden Anti-Piracy & China's Maritime Commons Presence

Every wave has its genesis some distance from shore. In this regard, China’s historic anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 have offered governments, researchers and pundits a rare window into Beijing’s nascent global maritime strategy. This study is one of the first attempts to comprehensively document and clarify the precise nature of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s maritime anti-piracy experience. It begins with an analysis of the internal drivers behind Beijing’s turn to taking on piracy beginning nearly a decade ago. Through a thorough reading of official and academic Chinese- and English-language sources, we explore geostrategic, domestic and international economic, and civilian and military institutional dynamics that drove China’s initial decision to contribute to anti-piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The book then inspects the nature and scope of the PLAN’s anti-piracy efforts, extensively cataloguing more than a score of anti-piracy escort flotillas in terms of the types of ships used, the identities of ship commanders and political leaders, foreign ports called upon, days at sea, and various other metrics. This allows us to track the operational evolution of PLAN anti-piracy operations over time, both with regard to Chinese naval and logistical lessons learned as well as trends in China’s naval diplomatic efforts attached to its anti-piracy mission.

Finally, we take stock of the broader implications of Beijing’s anti-piracy operations and find reason for measured optimism with regard to China’s role in future global maritime governance. While Beijing remains embroiled in testy military and political standoffs in East Asian waters, the atmosphere further afield is ripe for greater Chinese collaboration with the United States and other important maritime actors. If anything, China’s naval behavior further afield reflected by its anti-piracy missions remains relatively cautious and conservative, and other stakeholders would benefit from even deeper Chinese contributions in the future.

We conclude that well over six years of Chinese anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden have directly supported PLAN modernization goals and provided invaluable experience operating in distant waters. Lessons learned have spawned PLAN innovations in doctrine, operations, and international coordination. Many of the insights gleaned during deployments are applicable to security objectives closer to home; some officers enjoy promotion to important positions after returning. Anti-piracy operations have been a springboard for China to expand considerably its maritime security operations, from evacuating its citizens from Libya and Yemen to escorting Syrian chemical weapons to their destruction and participating in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. So great are the benefits to China’s global maritime presence and enhanced image at home and abroad that when Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operations finally wind down, Beijing will have to develop new means to address its burgeoning overseas interests.


Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Deep Blue Diplomacy: Soft Power and China’s Antipiracy Operations,” in Bruce A. Elleman and S. C. M. Paine, eds., Navies and Soft Power: Historical Case Studies of Naval Power and the Nonuse of Military ForceNaval War College Newport Paper 42 (June 2015), 163-79.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “Chinese Cooperation to Protect Sea-Lane Security: Antipiracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden,” in Peter A. Dutton and Ryan D. Martinson, eds., Beyond the Wall: Chinese Far Seas Operations, Naval War College China Maritime Study 13, May 2015), 33-41.

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin Strange, “China’s Global Maritime Presence: Hard and Soft Dimensions of PLAN Antipiracy Operations,” Jamestown China Brief 15.9 (1 May 2015).

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, “China’s Blue Soft Power: Antipiracy, Engagement, and Image Enhancement,” Naval War College Review 68.1 (Winter 2015): 71-91.

艾瑞克森 [Andrew S. Erickson] 博士、史崔奇 [Austin M. Strange] 博士生; 譯者: 翟文中 (海軍備役上校) [Translation by Capt. CHAI Wen-Chung, ROC-N (Ret.)], “中國大陸的遠洋軟實力 打擊海盜、國際交往與形象提升(上)” [Mainland China’s Use of Blue Water Soft Power to Combat Piracy, Engage in International Exchanges, and Enhance its Image: Part 1 of 2], 中國大陸軍力 [Defense Technology Monthly] 3 (2015): 64-71.

艾瑞克森 [Andrew S. Erickson] 博士、史崔奇 [Austin M. Strange] 博士生; 譯者: 翟文中 (海軍備役上校) [Translation by Capt. CHAI Wen-Chung, ROC-N (Ret.)], “中國大陸的遠洋軟實力 打擊海盜、國際交往與形象提升(下)” [Mainland China’s Use of Blue Water Soft Power to Combat Piracy, Engage in International Exchanges, and Enhance its Image: Part 2 of 2], 中國大陸軍力 [Defense Technology Monthly] 4 (2015): 42-49.

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.

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.