China sends ships to the Somalia pirate zone

AFP: Chinese navy off on historic anti-piracy mission[*1] :

The three vessels, decorated with coloured ribbons, flags and flowers, weighed anchor at the Yalong Bay naval base on south China’s tropical Hainan island at 1:50 pm (0550 GMT), heading for Somalia, the Xinhua news agency said.

“It’s the first time we go abroad to protect our strategic interests armed with military force,” said Wu Shengli, commander of the Chinese Navy, in a ceremony to see off the approximately 1,000 sailors, according to Xinhua.

“It’s the first time for us to organise a naval force on an international humanitarian mission and the first time for our navy to protect important shipping lanes far from our shores.”