BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese naval forces involved in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden have held their first joint drill with NATO ships carrying out the same mission, China’s Defense Ministry said on Friday, as China seeks a greater global security role.
The exercise happened on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement, showing pictures of Chinese and NATO officers chatting on the bridge of a ship and simulating a commando raid.
The exercise will help improve communications between ships on anti-piracy duties so that China and NATO can together maintain maritime security and stability in the Gulf of Aden, the ministry added. It gave no other details.
China, whose merchant ships and oil tankers are heavy users of the waters off Yemen and Somalia, has been an enthusiastic participant in the anti-piracy patrols.
Earlier this year Chinese warships in the area helped evacuate people from Yemen’s civil war.
China has been trying to assume a more proactive foreign security policy, as it seeks to take on a greater global role commensurate with its position as the world’s second largest economy.
This week, China said it was in talks with the Horn of Africa country Djibouti to build logistics “facilities” to support Chinese peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions.
In an effort to dampen fears about Chinese plans connected to its increasingly modern and confident military, Beijing has repeatedly said it does not want military bases abroad.
However experts have said China is likely one day to have to overcome its discomfort about overseas military bases, as its forces are drawn into protecting its growing overseas interests.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry