Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark visits Timor-Leste

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark (Hull 866), currently on tasking, arrived in Dili, capital of Timor-Leste, on Thursday for an 8-day friendly visit and humanitarian medical services.

This is the first visit of Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark to Timor-Leste, and also the second visit of the PLA Navy to Timor-Leste.

Over 500 people, including Timor-Leste’s Minister for Defense and Security Cirilo José Cristovão, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste Liu Hongyang, Chinese military attaché Huang Damin, working staff of the Chinese Embassy in Timor-Leste, representatives of China-funded institutions, overseas Chinese and local people welcomed the Chinese naval hospital ship at the port.

Cristovão said at the welcome ceremony that the visit by Chinese Peace Ark ship not only deepens the friendly cooperative relations between the two countries, but also brings hope and health to the people of Timor-Leste.

“The PLA has extensive experience in humanitarian aid and disaster relief and the two countries can further deepen their cooperation in such fields,” said Cristovão.

The Chinese ship was open to visitors after the ceremony. On the same day, the ship started and provided medical examinations and treatments for dozens of veterans of Timor-Leste.

The Peace Ark ship also sent a number of medical teams to local medical institutions to screen patients who need surgeries. The Chinese medical personnel also visited a few places to prepare for the follow-up diagnosis and treatment services.

During the visit, the hospital ship will also hold a deck reception. Sailors from China and East Timor will hold friendly football and basketball matches.

Rear Admiral Guan Bailin, the visiting commanding officer of the “Harmonious Mission 2017” task, said the Peace Ark came to Timor-Leste to provide free medical services after visiting seven African countries in an effort to further consolidate and develop traditional friendly relations and promote pragmatic cooperation between the two countries through a series of activities.

China has longstanding friendly exchanges with Timor-Leste. As early as 1436, Zheng He, a famous Chinese voyager, led the fleet to Timor-Leste. In January 2016, the 20th Chinese naval escort taskforce visited Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste is the last stop of the Chinese Peace Ark ship’s “Harmonious Mission 2017”, and also the 37th country visited by the Peace Ark since it was commissioned.