China urges end of 'harassment' of vessels in Red Sea

China urges end of 'harassment' of vessels in Red Sea


China called for an end to "harassment" of civilian vessels in the Red Sea on Friday.

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BEIJING (AFP) - China called for an end to "harassment" of civilian vessels in the Red Sea on Friday (Jan 19) after attacks on ships by Houthi rebels in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Houthi aggression against vessels in and around the Red Sea has led to retaliatory strikes in Yemen by US and British forces.

Some shipping firms are avoiding the crucial trade artery, causing delays along international trade routes.

And Beijing on Friday emphasised the area was an "important international trade route for goods and energy".

"We call for an end to the harassment of civilian vessels, in order to maintain the smooth flow of global production and supply chains and the international trade order," foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

In an interview published on Friday, a senior Houthi official promised safe passage for Russian and Chinese vessels through the Red Sea.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti said the waters around Yemen were safe so long as vessels were not linked to certain countries, particularly Israel.

That followed similar calls by Beijing's Commerce Ministry on those in the region to "restore and ensure the safety of waterways in the Red Sea".

"It is hoped that the relevant parties will proceed from the overall interests of regional security and stability as well as the common interests of the international community," ministry spokesman He Yadong said on Thursday, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The Houthis claimed early on Friday another attack on a US ship after the United States launched fresh strikes on rebel targets the day before.

The group has launched numerous attacks in the vital shipping lanes around Yemen since the war in Gaza erupted on Oct 7 with Hamas's bloody attack on Israel.

And Beijing on Friday reiterated that the Red Sea tensions were linked to the war between Israel and Hamas.

"The top priority is to quell the war in Gaza as soon as possible to prevent the conflict from further expanding or even getting out of control," Mao said.