Here’s a major piece of research from the US Naval War College about China’s participation in Gulf of Aden anti-piracy operations over the last four-plus years. It’s from November last year but very much still worth flagging.
It’s incredibly thorough, covering everything from operational lessons to the dietary and psychological needs of sailors on long-term deployments to the larger strategic motives behind China’s involvement in this multilateral effort:
…antipiracy escorts have furthered China’s strategic and doctrinal shift from a purely land-based power to an oceanic power, in part by fostering maritime culture in and through the PLAN. When PLAN escort task forces cross “China’s traditional maritime boundary” on their way to the Gulf of Aden, the ships’ crews each reportedly conduct a solemn ceremony of taking and signing pledges.
Indeed, many Chinese view escort operations as only the beginning of a larger process in which China’s military development will increasingly mirror its rapidly expanding national interests. If indeed this proves true in practice, decades from now China’s Gulf of Aden mission will be seen as the genesis of the nation’s ascent as a global maritime power. Indeed, at a symposium in Beijing in January 2012 to mark the three-year anniversary of China’s Gulf of Aden mission, Adm. Wu Shengli remarked that escort operations were a landmark event in the historical development of China’s navy.