25 February 2011

Galrahn, Information Dissemination: “Asia Sending Ships to Libya”

Galrahn, Asia Sending Ships to Libya,” Information Dissemination, 25 February 2011.

From China Signpost, Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson offer some analysis regarding the latest news from the PLA Navy.

The PLA Navy has just dispatched Xuzhou, a Type 054 Jiangkai-II class missile frigate, from the ongoing seventh PLAN anti-piracy task force deployment off Somalia to steam to Libyan coast to provide support and protection for the ongoing evacuation mission there. The escort mission has been approved by the Central Military Commission, according to Xinhua, and at least 6,300 of the roughly 30,000 PRC citizens in Libya have been evacuated. The news agency adds that the Chinese evacuation is also utilizing chartered aircraft, overland routes to Egypt and Tunisia, ships from China’s major state shipping firms, and Greek merchant vessels in the region, which are said to be closely coordinating their operations with the Chinese government and plan to evacuate up to 15,000 Chinese from Libya.

They also have some insights into what this represents.

Xuzhou’s mission marks an important milestone because to the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever dispatch of a PLA military platform specifically assigned to help protect a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) to help PRC citizens trapped in an active conflict zone. Chinese policymakers now have a precedent for future military operations in areas where the lives and property of expatriate PRC citizens come under threat. We expect that the Chinese people’s popular support for the mission will be high.

Their entire analysis is worth reading. …

For more details on Beijing’s dispatching of the frigate Xuzhou to escort ships transporting Chinese citizens from Libya, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “China Dispatches Warship to Protect Libya Evacuation Mission: Marks the PRC’s first use of frontline military assets to protect an evacuation mission,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 25 (24 February 2011).

For analysis of Beijing’s interests in Libya and the surrounding region, see Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, “Libya Looming: Key strategic implications for China of unrest in the Arab World and Iran,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 24 (22 February 2011).

For early projections regarding Chinese efforts to protect citizens overseas, see Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins, “Looking After China’s Own: Pressure to Protect PRC Citizens Working Overseas Likely to Rise,” China Signpost 洞察中国™, No. 2 (17 August 2010).