The defense ministry of China announced Sunday that it is sending its hospital ship "Peace Ark" on a tour of the South Pacific, visiting five countries and providing free medical assistance to Chinese citizens and local residents.
The defense ministry of China announced Sunday that it is sending its hospital ship "Peace Ark" on a tour of the South Pacific, visiting five countries and providing free medical assistance to Chinese citizens and local residents.1
China's 14.3K-ton hospital ship will visit Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands. The mission, dubbed “Harmony Mission 2023," is seen as an attempt by Beijing to assert its influence in the region amid growing competition with Washington.2
China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands last year, with China's foreign minister saying the relationship could serve as a model for other Pacific countries. The US has tripled funding for the region, opened diplomatic missions in Vanuatu and Tonga earlier this year, and in May signed a defense agreement with Papua New Guinea.3
Peace Ark is China's biggest hospital ship and has a staff of more than 100 medical workers divided into 16 departments. It has multiple operating rooms and nursing stations and can accommodate roughly 1K patients at once.4
The Chinese Navy's hospital ship left its home port of Zhoushan on Monday, heading for the South Pacific. The mission is aimed at shoring up China's ties with countries in the region and promoting Chinese culture.5
Since its commission in 2008, Peace Ark has taken part in 10 overseas missions and provided medical services for roughly 250K people from 43 countries and regions.6
Pro-China narrative, as provided by BNN Breaking. The Chinese hospital ship, Peace Ark, is Beijing's goodwill ambassador and symbol of soft power. Its Harmony Mission 2023 in the South Pacific seeks to persuade and attract islanders through culture, values, and diplomacy, aiming to win the hearts and minds of the people in the region, as well as enhance China's reputation in the international community.
Anti-China narrative, as provided by Archive. Much to the dismay of the United States and its allies in Australia and New Zealand, China is sending its military-run hospital ship on a goodwill trip to the South Pacific as competition grows for influence in a region long viewed as part of America's sphere of influence. The US should step up its game in the Pacific to compete with the PRC's projection of soft power.