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China to consider permanent naval bases in Gulf of Aden

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BEIJING (AFP/PTI):A top Chinese naval official has proposed setting up a permanent base to support ships on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, raising the idea that China could build foreign bases elsewhere.

In an interview posted on the defence ministry website, Yin Zhuo -- an admiral and senior researcher at the navy's Equipment Research Centre -- said such a base would bolster China's long-term participation in the operation.

"We are not saying we need our navy everywhere in order to fulfil our international commitments," Yin said.

"We are saying to fulfil our international commitments, we need to strengthen our supply capacity."

Yin's proposal, posted on Tuesday, came after a Chinese cargo ship and its crew of 25 were rescued from Somali pirates on Monday, following the payment of USD 3.5-million ransom to their kidnappers.

China has sent four flotillas to the region since the end of last year, with the first escort fleet spending 124 days at sea without docking, Yin said -- a length of time that added to the challenges of the operation.

Since then, Chinese vessels have been allowed to dock and resupply at a French naval base. The United States, European Union and Japan all have supply bases in the region, he said.

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