Dec 23

Chinese Crew Fights Off Pirates

Written by Steve on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 6:06 am
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From the Times Online website with thanks to FOARP: Chinese Crew Used Beer Bottles To Fight Off Pirates

 The crew of a Chinese ship have described how they used beer bottles and water cannon to fend off a pirate attack off the Somali coast before they were rescued.

Zhenua 4 was one of four vessels seized by pirates on Wednesday, shortly after the UN Security Council authorised countries to pursue the renegades by land and air.

Nine pirates armed with rocket launchers and machineguns boarded the ship, Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency, reported.

The vessel’s thirty crew members fought for four hours with home-made firebombs and beer bottles, an official with the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said.

The pirates abandoned their attempt to take the ship when a multilateral force, including a warship and two helicopters, arrived after the crew had locked themselves in their cabins and radioed for help.

“Seven of the nine pirates landed on our ship, all with weapons,” Peng Weiyuan, the captain of Zhenhua 4, said in a telephone interview with China Central Television.

“Our crew, who had been well trained and prepared, used water cannon, self-made incendiary bombs, beer bottles and anything else that could be used to battle with them.

“Thirty minutes later, the pirates gestured to us for a ceasefire,” he added. “Then the helicopter from the joint fleet came to help us.”

The reports from the Chinese crew come as Beijing said that it would send a warship to the Gulf of Aden to join international efforts to curb the pirates.

The Chinese announcement that it would join the fight against piracy was greeted enthusiastically by the head of America’s Pacific Command.

Admiral Timothy Keating said it would lead to a revival in military relations between China and the United States.

“I hope the Chinese do [send ships to the Gulf of Aden] and we’ll work closely with them,” Admiral Keating told reporters.

“I think this could be a spring-board for a resumption of dialogue between PLA \ forces and US Pacific Command forces,” he said.

China is about to engage in their first active deployment beyond the Pacific Ocean: China Navy Set For Somalia Mission

Three Chinese warships will leave port later this week to join a growing international anti-piracy force off the coast of Somalia, Chinese officials have said.

Two destroyers and an accompanying supply vessel will set sail on Friday from their base on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, Huang Xueping, a defence ministry spokesman, told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.

He said the deployment would help to protect Chinese ships transiting the area, but also that the Chinese navy was willing to work with others battling pirates in the region, including warships the US, Russia and the European Union.

Piracy off the Horn of Africa has taken an increasing toll on international shipping, especially in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

This year more than 40 vessels have been hijacked off the Somali coast, with pirates taking an estimated $30m in ransom payments.

Last week Chinese foreign ministry officials said about 20 per cent of Chinese ships travelling through the area had come under attack.

International security

Although China has a huge global commercial maritime presence, the deployment of the three warships will be China’s first major naval operation abroad.

Until now the Chinese navy has primarily focused on defending the country’s coastline, limiting operations abroad to port calls, goodwill visits and exercises with other navies.

But with China’s growing global clout there have been calls for Beijing to take a greater role in international security affairs.

However, a senior Chinese military official played down the significance of the Somalia mission, saying the deployment did not show any major shift in policy.

“This is only an escorting operation to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters,” Senior Captain Ma Luping, director of the Navy Bureau of the General Staff Headquarters Operations Department, said.

“It does not indicate any change in the strategy of the Chinese military.”

This is actually the first deployment of the Chinese Navy in foreign waters since the days of Zheng He’s treasure fleet in the mid 1400s. I feel it represents a new chapter in China’s continued progress as a modern power and is a very welcome development.

Kudos to the Chinese merchant sailors! They used whatever means were at their disposal to fight off a pirate attack, and were able to foil the incursion. Using beer bottles to keep the pirates at bay? Those are my kind of guys! They adapted to the situation with whatever means were available and kept cool heads during a terrifying ordeal. They are heroes in my book.

Back in WWII, cargo ships were given cannon and machine guns to protect themselves and the strategy proved quite successful. Along with naval escorts, is it time to revive this policy? I’m sure this Chinese crew would have taken on the pirate ship with gusto if those weapons were available.

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17 Responses to “Chinese Crew Fights Off Pirates”

  1. ecodelta Says:

    They should rename one of their ships after Zeng He, or at least the name of one of those treasure ships.

    It would be a PR blast! 😉

  2. vmoore55 Says:

    Put the Chinese back to work and push China back to the top.

    Kill two birds with one stone.
    To create more good paying jobs and to take China into the next chapter of progress as a modern power, this is the time for China to build a stronger navy with a fleet of aircraft carriers to boot.

  3. Tommy Bahamas Says:

    “Using beer bottles to keep the pirates at bay..”

    If only they had crates of Mao Tai 茅台酒 -fermented sorghum – 53 % ABV…or any other 40%–60% ABV Chinese Baijiu: Wuliangye(五粮液) 45% ABV , Kweichew Moutai (贵州茅台) 30% ABV……the Chinese merchants would’ve defeated the pirates without any help. Yeah~! 🙂

  4. Raj Says:

    Steve, perhaps you should link to the article directly so that the website will gain visitors?

    This is actually the first deployment of the Chinese Navy in foreign waters since the days of Zheng He’s treasure fleet in the mid 1400s.

    So long as no one goes on about Gavin Menzies’ crazy stories – nutter!

  5. FOARP Says:

    I still think this story is totally cool, anyone who has been in a bar fight in China will have seen the ready gusto with which the beer bottles start to fly, and in this case I couldn’t think of a target more deserving of these guy’s attention – if I ever meet these guys they’ll have as much as they can drink on my tab! I hope the Chinese government is thinking about giving them a medal, I know they have an award for civilian heroes and they certainly should be considered for it.

    On a more serious note, of course there is the issue of whether China should send warships to join the patrol around the horn of Africa. I would say that as an increasing amount of the trade that flows through the straits is bound for China or coming from there, and as many of the ships have Chinese crews, it would seem fitting for the PLAN to join the patrol. Indeed, unless I am mistaken, haven’t PLAN ships already taken part in the patrol in the straits of Malacca?

  6. Old Tales Retold Says:

    Not sure about the Straits of Malacca—-I’d have to check—-but I agree that the PLAN joining the anti-pirate patrol around the horn is a good thing. Those guys with beer bottles are awesome.

  7. HongKonger Says:

    This is actually the first deployment of the Chinese Navy in foreign waters since the days of Zheng He’s treasure fleet in the mid 1400s.

    “So long as no one goes on about Gavin Menzies’ crazy stories – nutter!”

    Not so fast Raj….

    I have my doubts too, but hey, why not be more open minded.

    Did the Chinese beat Columbus to America?
    by Josh Clark


    More evidence to the original 1421 theory are found…

    Indigenous legend and folklore is also fraught with stories about encounters between native tribes and Chinese explorers.—In the Pacific Northwest of the present-day United States, investigations at eight different sites have uncovered Chinese coins. A garment from the Nez Perce tribe of present-day Idaho that’s dated at over 300 years old has woven ornaments into it that are believed to be Chinese beads. And in the Florida Keys and off the coast of Big Sur, Calif., artifacts of pre-Columbian Chinese jade have been unearthed from a riverbed and the sea floor.

    Perhaps the evidence that’s been most attacked is the 1408 map itself. Dr. Geoff Wade, a historian with the National University of Singapore, has written extensively in an effort to debunk Gavin Menzies and the 1421 theory, even going so far as filing a complaint in the United Kingdom against the publishers of Menzies’ book for marketing it as a history.

    If the map is fake, then the entire 1421 theory falls apart. … Here’s where the story takes a turn that may maintain the 1421 theory’s status as debatable for years to come. After the invading Manchu rulers took over China following the Ming Dynasty (establishing the Qing Dynasty), the foreigners took great pains to wipe out any reminders of the previous rule….. http://history.howstuffworks.com/european-history/chinese-beat-columbus3.htm

  8. TonyP4 Says:

    To deal with pirates, we need to be aggressive and no compromise. Let us sacrifice a few vessels. No money and no pirates. I would send an army of ‘8 nations’ to go to any country that lets the pirates station or just send them a small A-bomb on X’mas day – a more cost effective way as we have plenty of unused a-bombs . 🙂 The beer just encourages pirates. 🙂

    I posted the following about Zheng He previously.


    Zheng He could be the greatest navigator in his time. History does not give him the credit he deserves. Unfortunately most official records were destroyed due to superstition by the Ming court.

    Officially, he traveled to SE Asia and Africa with a lot of artifacts that I saw some in my SE Asia trip last year. The sizes of the ships could not be that big, but far larger than Columbus’s.

    Unofficially he or his crew could sail to Australia and America. They had the technology that were possible to do so and were far superior than the west. The fleet was very organized. It was rumored that Columbus used the map by Zheng He.

    It is possible that the abandoned ships of Zheng’s fleet could have traveled and discovered America. For the joke (please do not argue with me on jokes), the Chinese cook in Columbus’s ship saw America for the first time and said in Taishanese, “Ah Mud Li Ka (roughly translated as “what is this?”, and that’s why it is called America – of course it is not true but the joke is quite funny to me. 🙂

    Chinese history could change for the better if Zheng He went to Europe and saw the more advanced civilization. At that time, Chinese did not think they need to learn anything from outside (salvages in their term).

    Chinese tradition is not to colonize new land and load all the treasures. They did ask the countries like Ethiopia to send them treasures every year. It is for the “face”. In return, they sent them treasures too. There is one reason for the fleet to exchange treasures and envoys.

  9. TommyBahamas Says:

    TonyP4..”Ah Mud li ka?” (What is that?)

    LOL, that is a great joke.

    “Chinese tradition is not to colonize new land and load all the treasures. They did ask the countries like Ethiopia to send them treasures every year. ”

    Let’s not forget, the returning gifts by the Chinese emperor to the tributes received from whom they considered as barbarians or relatively weaker nations were always far more in values than the ones they received.
    This goes with the imperial cum plebeian Chinese culture of “Show me a foot of your respect and I will return a yard of mine.” And this proved to be an exorbitant enterprise, and was one of the reasons the overly costly seafaring business was later scaped.
    The Chinese are generally quite frugal – for it is concsidered a virtue – but only with oneself – never others. I find most Chinese tend to be very generous when it comes to entertaining guests and friends. For one, “going Dutch,” is a new and foreign practice to the Chinese among friends.

  10. TonyP4 Says:

    Hi Tommy, glad you enjoy it.

    I posted several jokes in FM that you may not aware of.


    I wrote the first one in English. The other 2 are distributed to me from my old, old classmates in Hong Kong. They gave me a big laugh. The authors (unknown) should get a Nobel peace prize as they entertain so many without spending much. 🙂 However, you need to read traditional Chinese.

    Have a great laugh and consider my X’mas present to you that keeps the doctor away.

  11. Steve Says:

    @TonyP4: Since it’s the Christmas season, my gift to you is Jethro Tull singing “A Christmas Song”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zm9RmfNZIA&feature=PlayList&p=6E852B2A2DCA456B&index=25

    Have a great holiday season, everyone!! 😀

  12. TommyBahamas Says:


    @TonyP4 & Steve # 11 THANK YOU Sirs-

    A very Merry X’ Mas to y’all on FM.

    Some of us may be ‘Too old to Rock N Roll, too young to die,’ but let us never be too anything to have fun and take it easy….May we all be Forever Young.

  13. Steve Says:

    @TommyBahamas: I hadn’t seen the vid of this song before, funny! Ian Anderson can sure perform along with the rest of the guys. I saw them in 1974; I believe it was the Passion Play tour. They still do concerts on a regular basis.

    When Ian Anderson’s daughter was young, she took up the flute at school and came home one day, watched her daddy play and said, “You’re doing it all wrong!” He was self taught and didn’t realize his fingering wasn’t standard. Since then he learned the right way and is even better on that instrument. You’re never too old to learn, right??? 😉

  14. Steve Says:

    @TommyBahamas: “Hey Santa, pass us that bottle, will ya?” 😛

  15. TonyP4 Says:

    #11 and #12.

    Merry Christmas to all FMers, admin, and any to make this web site so great!

    The mandolin reminds me the one my father gave me for X’mas. After a month of practice, I attended the no-talent talent contest and won. I found out I did not have any music gene and this was the end of my career as a performer. 🙂

    Here are some with real talents.
    1. If you watched The Legend movie, you saw Jet Li walking on others’ heads. How about dancing on someone’s head.

    2. Need some inspiration for the new year.

    3. Bush’s only talent.

  16. Steve Says:

    News Update: Looks like those warships have sailed. In yesterday’s NY Times it was confirmed that a supply ship and two destroyers have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to begin escort and patrol duties in that region.

    Per the article, “The Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said Friday that 110 ships were attacked in the gulf this year, and 42 were hijacked. Fourteen ships are still being held for ransom.

    A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said that 1,265 Chinese commercial vessels passed through the gulf so far this year and that seven were attacked. Pirates still hold a Chinese fishing trawler and 18 crew members, he said.”

    Jerry, the boys at Stratfor were quoted in the article. They seem to be getting increased visibility these days. I’ve always felt their analysis was fair and pretty objective, so nice to see that.

  17. Pak Karamu Says:

    Happy new year to you

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