Thursday, December 21, 2023

Beijing Expects US-led Naval Task Force to Protect Its Red Sea Commerce

 Politico published on 21 December 2023 an article titled "Beijing Shrugs at U.S. Call for Help Protecting Red Sea Shipping" by Phelim Kine.  

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented this week that China believes "relevant parties, especially major countries with influence, need to play a constructive and responsible role in keeping lanes safe in the Red Sea."  This followed a request from the United States to China to join an international naval task force to protect shipping through the Red Sea.

Comment:  China is one of if not the single largest beneficiary of freedom of navigation for its ships, exports, and imports that pass through the Red Sea and Suez Canal.  Since 2008, it has positioned three naval ships (usually two frigates and a supply ship) in the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea with the stated purpose of discouraging piracy.  Yet, Beijing is apparently unwilling to join an international effort to counter Yemen-based Houthi drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping.  

In fact, China's Global Times, an organ of the Communist Party of China, stated on 20 December in an article titled "US-led Coalition in the Red Sea Only 'Band-aid Solution'; An Immediate Cease-fire in Urgent Need to Avoid Spillovers" that the solution is not shooting down drones and missiles from Yemen-based Houthis but a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.  The Global Times has a short memory.  The Houthis periodically attacked shipping in the Red Sea BEFORE the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas and they will probably continue the attacks AFTER the war is over.