01/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

China To Fight Somali Pirates, Considers Naval Mission In Gulf of Aden

HONG KONG -- In what would be the first active deployment of its warships beyond the Pacific, China appears set to send naval vessels to help in the fight against hijackers in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.

A vice foreign minister and a leading naval strategist were quoted in Chinese state media on Wednesday as saying that Beijing was close to mounting a naval mission in the gulf.

"China is seriously considering sending naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast for escorting operations in the near future," said the Foreign Ministry official, He Yafei, quoted by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. His remarks were made at a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Security Council.