China's proposal for a centralised system to co-ordinate the efforts of more than 40 nations fighting piracy off Somalia is expected to be realised this year, a senior PLA leader says. In a review of the past year's military affairs in the latest issue of the Communist Party School's weekly Study Times magazine, General Ma Xiaotian , deputy head of the PLA's General Staff Department, said China's proposal had won widespread international support. 'The PLA's unprecedented escort mission in the Gulf of Aden is the brightest spot in last year's military diplomatic development achievements,' said Ma, who is also chairman of the China Institute for International Studies. 'Our significant and practical proposal about the establishment of a centralised system in co-ordinating anti-piracy efforts among navies in waters off Somalia has won widespread support from international society and those countries taking part in the anti-piracy efforts. It is expected to be realised this year.' Under the proposal, each navy will be given responsibility for patrolling a specific sector of the pirate- infested Gulf of Aden. The proposal was first made by Beijing just three days after the Chinese coal carrier De Xin Hai was hijacked by Somali pirates on October 19. The idea was later raised at an international meeting in Beijing in early November. Twenty-five crew members were held for more than two months until the ship's owners, a subsidiary of Cosco, paid a US$4 million ransom. Another reason for Beijing's push stems from the historic dimension to the PLA Navy's deployment in January last year of a three-ship anti-piracy task force to the Indian Ocean - its first move into potential conflict beyond home waters in centuries. Four rotations of PLA naval convoys had escorted at least 1,300 ships by December 7, Ma said. The proposal is expected to be further discussed at monthly meetings in Bahrain of those involved in the anti-piracy effort. In his article, Ma said China had seen a rare and significant opportunity to develop military diplomatic ties with Western countries since last year's global economic meltdown, which hit the United States, Japan and European countries hard. Ma said the US had resumed military ties with Beijing last year, Russia had further enhanced its strategic partnership with China, and Japan, India and some key European countries had actively developed partnerships with China. 'Key powers in the world have generally seen China as their key target in diplomacy [since last year],' he wrote. '[The security] situation in our surrounding areas has also changed as more neighbouring countries need China's help... It provides us with favourable conditions to maintain a stable neighbourhood and security perimeter.' However, Ma said some thorny issues were still hindering the development of Sino-US military ties, including Washington's arms sales to Taipei, its surveillance activities in the South China Sea and mistrust between the two countries.