Dec 18, 2008 -- China today announced that it is preparing to send its own ships to protect the safe passage of cargo as it passes through the pirate-hit Gulf of Aden.
"China is actively considering sending warships to participate in convoy actions in the Somali sea and Gulf of Aden," China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.
This year has seen a dramatic increase in pirate attacks off the coast of war-torn Somalia. Citing data from the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program, Liu said 300 ships were attacked by pirates last year in that area. More than 40 ships were hijacked in the first 11 months of this year.
These photographs show the moment Somali pirates tried to take over a Chinese cargo ship off the East African coast, Wednesday. Nine heavily armed men stormed on board the Zhenhua 4 in an attempted hijacking.
The pirates were at first beaten back by the crew who used a high-pressure water hose to repel them. They also hurled Molotov cocktails at their assailants before retreating inside their cabins.
According to The International Maritime Bureau's website all three of the attacks reported last week were aborted after crews called in for back up.
Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia described the Zhenhua 4's rescue by the international naval force.
"Two helicopters arrived at the scene first and helped deter the hijacking. They fired at the pirates, forcing them to flee the ship," he said. There were no injuries during the five-hour ordeal.
"The Chinese ship is very fortunate to have escaped. This is a rare case where pirates have successfully boarded the ship but failed to hijack it," he added.
"Piracy has become an international enemy, posing great threat to international navigation, trade and security," Liu said.
China's participation comes after an unanimous U.N. Security Council vote to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on the increasingly audacious pirates in the Gulf of Aden.
The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.