The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's hospital ship the Peace Ark will depart on a typhoon relief mission to the Philippines on Thursday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.We will probably never know why China didn't react to events in the Philippines sooner, nor why China chose to act now.
With full-load displacement of 14,300 tons, the hospital ship has 300 beds, 20 ICUs, eight operating theaters, and can accommodate 40 major procedures a day.
"We hope its mission will help ease the lack of medical services in the disaster areas in the Philippines, as a token of Chinese people's friendship to the Philippine people," Hong Lei said at a daily press briefing.
The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) stands at 4,011, the Philippine disaster agency said Wednesday. The number of those injured has risen to 18,557, while 1,602 people remained missing.
China is keeping a close eye on the disaster and wants to help heal the wounded by sending manpower and humanitarian assistance, Hong said.
What I do know is the hospital ship Peace Ark is a modern hospital ship with world class medical facilities, and the Chinese have the potential to do a lot of good if they embrace this opportunity. China is sending the ship for domestic political purposes, but just because a ship gets sent doesn't mean it actually does anything. The US Navy has sent ships for disaster response to unfamiliar places in the past where those ships ended up doing very little, and there can be legitimate reasons for that. The question will be whether China and the Philippines can work through that and help people.
It is going to be interesting to see how this turns out, and what if any impact it may have on the relationship between the two nations.