Sea Transportation: What Would China Do?



December 28, 2008: On December 25th, a German frigate off the coast of Somalia, sent its helicopter to interrupt a pirate attack on an Egyptian merchant ship. One member of the Egyptian crew had already been wounded by gunfire, but the German helicopter stopped the attack. German sailors then captured and disarmed six of the pirates. The pirates were then set free. This is because German law only allows the prosecution of pirates who are attacking Germans (or German property.) The Egyptian ship was carrying a cargo of wheat from Ukraine to South Korea.

Since World War II, national and international laws for dealing with pirates (which used to mean trying and executing the pirates on the spot) have been discarded. But nothing took the place of those procedures, because it was believed that piracy was no longer a problem.

Germany is not the only country having problems with prosecuting pirates. Since all this happening in international waters, there is a problem with finding a country that will accept, and prosecute, the pirates. Kenya has agreed to accept, and prosecute, pirates arrested off the coast of Somalia. The pirates will be tried under Kenyan law, but foreign countries will provide money to help pay for the proceedings.

Some nations working the anti-piracy patrol, have signed deals with Kenya, which sends pirates captured off the Somali coast, to Kenyan courts for prosecution. These deals provide cash to help defer the costs of prosecution and incarceration, which would otherwise be a burden for a poor nation like Kenya.

Meanwhile, Chinese warships have just arrived off the Somali coast, and a Russian warship already there has not caught any pirates yet. Everyone is watching what will happen to pirates caught by Russian or Chinese warships. These two nations are known to be very ruthless when it comes to law and order issues. Most other nations are more politically correct. The Chinese are rather more blunt. Most of the criminals executed worldwide each year, are killed in China.

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