China declines to acknowledge Indian Navy’s role in ship rescue

Somali pirates attacked the ship when it was travelling from Kelang in Malaysia to the port city of Aden.

China on Monday declined to give any credit to the Indian Navy for the rescue of hostages from a commercial ship that was pirated near the Gulf of Aden.

In response to a question, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that on April 8, the 25th convoy of the Chinese Navy that was conducting an escort mission received a report at 5 p.m. about the hijack of the ship 035 registered in Tuvalu in waters west of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden.

“Fleet vessel Yulin set after the vessel immediately. Rescue operation started in the early morning of April 9. Under the cover of helicopters assisting, special force members of the Navy boarded the ship and rescued the 19 crew members on board. Both the ship and crew members are safe now.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s account of the incident, which excludes any reference to an Indian participation in the operation, is in sharp contrast to a statement issued by New Delhi.

A Navy spokesperson was quoted as saying in New Delhi, “In a show of international maritime cooperation against piracy, a boarding party from the nearby Chinese Navy ship went on board the merchant ship, while a Indian Naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation. It has been established that all 19 Filipino crew members are safe.”

After getting a distress call about the attack on cargo vessel OS35, the Indian Navy sent warships INS Mumbai  and INS Tarkash. The Chinese Navy also responded to the call for help by moving in missile frigate Yulin.

Somali pirates attacked the ship when it was travelling from Kelang in Malaysia to the port city of Aden.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson cited the rescue as an expression of China’s fulfilment of its regional obligations as a “major country”.

“We believe the formation of the operation demonstrated the effectiveness of Chinese naval force in fighting terrorists as well as China’s image as a responsible major country safeguarding regional peace and stability.”

Ms. Hua did not give any additional detail when asked specifically to comment on India’s participation in the rescue. “I have already given what I have learnt to you,” she observed.

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