Maritime Peace Missions
Updated 14:38, 20-Apr-2019
By Han Bin, Huang Xiaodong
05:08

When it comes to the transformation of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, we can't ignore the escort missions off the coast of the Somalia. China's decade of commitment has come to symbolize its blue-water status as it plays a bigger role in the International anti-piracy campaign. This peace mission has also reinforced naval capability in open waters.

Presence in international waters

We got a chance to visit the 054 A type frigate Linyi. It conducted the 19th escort mission back in 2014. Its captain Zhang Guangyao showed me around the ship during the break in their onshore training. The 054 A is the Navy's main combat warship.

The Gulf of Aden is some 4,000 sea miles away. When Zhang signed on some two decades ago, he did not think he would ever travel so far. But now it's routine. And China continues to send advanced warships for the peace mission, with a growing presence in international waters.

Through the escort operations, the navy has gradually enhanced the capabilities of offshore protection and combat, far away from base.

Captain Zhang Guangyao shows CGTN reporter Han Bin around the 054 A Linyi. /CGTN Photo

Captain Zhang Guangyao shows CGTN reporter Han Bin around the 054 A Linyi. /CGTN Photo

Symbol of responsibility

"Our appearance on location is the symbol of responsibilities of the Chinese Navy. Not afraid of gunfire, not afraid of danger," says Zhang Guangyao, captain of the PLAN Linyi.

In 2015, Zhang was on an escort mission of over 200 days. He said the most memorable part was the evacuation of Chinese and foreign civilians in Yemen. Only the warships of the PLAN entered the port of Aden.

The Chinese Navy began escort missions in 2008, since when 32 fleets have escorted more than 6,600 ships worldwide, and rescued some 70 ships in danger.

Foreign civilians in Yemen were evacuated by Linyi during the civil war. /Photo provided by PLAN

Foreign civilians in Yemen were evacuated by Linyi during the civil war. /Photo provided by PLAN

Besides danger, there is diplomacy, in the form of exchanges, recorded in the souvenir plaques of foreign navies on the ship wall. Foreign officers, including the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations, have come on board.

Confidence and pride are clear on Zhang's face when he recounts stories on the sea. And perhaps that's the real change in the men and women of today's PLA Navy.