Chinese Military Ship Will Help Guard Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Chinese FrigateFrom Jane Perlez, New York Times:  The same day that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel of the United States blasted the actions of a Chinese ship in the South China Sea as “irresponsible,” China announced that it would deploy a military ship to work with an American vessel involved in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

The willingness of China to work with the United States Navy was not intended as amends for the near collision on Dec. 5 between the American guided-missile cruiser, the Cowpens, and a Chinese ship that suddenly cut across its bow.

But the declaration by China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday that one of its navy ships would protect the American ship, the Cape Ray, which is being fitted with mobile laboratories for destroying the chemical weapons at sea, was widely seen as a desire by China to cooperate with the United States Navy in an important international operation. . . .

The Foreign Ministry did not specify what kind of ship China would send to the operation being overseen by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the intergovernmental organization based in The Hague that verifies compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. That group has said the American vessel, the Cape Ray, will receive the chemical weapons from Syria at an unnamed port in Italy from Danish and Norwegian ships.

From Ben Blanchard, Reuters:  “China has decided to send a military ship to participate in the protection mission for the shipping of Syrian chemical weapons,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

She added that it was an “important move” to show China’s support.

From South China Morning Post:  “China hopes for the safe and smooth completion of the Syrian chemical weapons disposal work,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

The PLA Navy would be responsible for escorting the mission from Syria to Italy, which would be the first time it would operate in the Mediterranean, Chen Kai, secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told Xinhua.

Image: Chinese Frigate (photo: Seaman Johans Chavarro/US Navy)