Houthis Prove They Aren’t Playing Favorites, Shoot Chinese Ship After Giving Them a Hall Pass

Igor Grochev / shutterstock.com
Igor Grochev / shutterstock.com

Iranian-funded Houthi rebels in Yemen have been causing major disruptions in the shipping lanes along the Red Sea. Done a form of rebellion against Israel and their persistent conflict with Gaza, the rebels have been attacking various ships for months.

In early March, Chinese officials had enough of worrying about their ships passing through the zone and wanted assurances they could pass unharmed. So, along with Russian authorities, they met with Houthis in Oman and negotiated safe passage.

On March 23rd, the rebels proved that they could care less about the deal or the Chinese. The MV Huang Pu is a Panamanian-flagged tanker owned by Chinese companies that also operate the ship through the Red Sea.

Yet the Houthis set their sights on the ship and fired not one or two, but five missiles at the ship. While the first four were far misses, the fifth nailed its target. Causing a small fire, the crew was able to extinguish the flames and continued on their way after a 30-minute delay.

Both Chinese and Houthi officials have been mum about the attack thus far.

Maritime Executive’s writers surmised that the attack may have been a grave mistake. With a company holding a British mailing address previously owning the ship, they believe it could be a case of mistaken identity.

They added, “Any entity of any nationality may create an anonymous company in Hong Kong, then use it as a listed shipowner of record. The ease and speed of registration make the region a preferred global jurisdiction for shell companies, both for Chinese and foreign interests. Without more information, the nationality of the ultimate beneficial owner cannot be verified.”