In cooperation with other international naval forces, China has supported the Somali anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden for the past two years.
The Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington published a study in Dec. 2010 titled “China’s Out of Area Naval Operations: Case Studies, Trajectories, Obstacles, and Potential Solutions” (PDF) by Christopher D. Yung and Ross Rustici. (The link seems to be down currently; cached version here.)
The study looks at the future direction of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with regard to out of area deployments and power projections. It identifies five categories of challenges that the PLAN confronts operating at long distances from home ports: distance, duration, capacity, complexity of coordination, and hostility of environment.
The PLAN Gulf of Aden deployment illustrated some of these difficulties. In the absence of a nearby facility or military base, that task force had difficulty maintaining its ships; the ships had difficulty maintaining supplies of fresh vegetables, fruits and potable water; and personnel did not have access to comprehensive medical care.