Beijing rescues abducted fishermen from pirates

Three of the rescued men. Credit: Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos

Four Chinese fishermen have been rescued, three weeks after being abducted by West African pirates, following a co-ordinated effort by the Chinese government and the Nigerian police.

The abduction happened off Gabon, in the Gulf of Guinea, on 22 December 2019.

A statement released by China’s consulate in Lagos stated that as soon as the government learnt of the abduction, the Chinese Embassy in Gabon and the Consulate General of Lagos launched emergency plans to for a rescue attempt, working with the Nigerian military police.

The Chinese government had publicly stated that it wanted every effort made to rescue the fishermen, who work for Sigapeche, a Gabon-Chinese joint venture fishing company.

Details of the rescue were not disclosed, but the consulate said that the fishermen were rescued in the afternoon (local time) on 9 January 2020 and taken to the Nigeria-China Aid Centre. There, they were visited by Zhu Maoming, China’s consul in Lagos, who told them that China’s Foreign Affairs Minister was very concerned about the rescue effort.

The fishermen flew back to China on 12 January, with just two weeks to go before the Lunar New Year holidays.

The consulate said: “The rescued men were very moved and said that they felt the concern of the Communist Party and the government from far away, in Africa. They also thanked the Consul-General for the all-out rescue effort.”

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a growing menace, with the International Maritime Bureau reporting that the area accounts for 82% of crew kidnappings in the world.