A Chinese navy anti-piracy task force has set sail for Somalia to help tackle sea piracy.
File picture shows Somali pirates in small boats alongside a hijacked Ukrainian ship in Sept. 2008
The state media reported two destroyers and a supply ship left the port of Sanya on the southern Hainan Island to join other international warships already patrolling the area.
This is China's first potential combat mission beyond its territorial waters in centuries.
Japan is also considering sending ships, although its military activities overseas are restricted by its post-World War Two pacifist constitution.