Chinese Peace Ark's maiden visit to Venezuela amid crisis garners world attention

China Military Online
Huang Panyue

By Xu Fang, Yu Wen and Jiang Shan

“A Chinese navy hospital ship docks in Venezuela's capital amid the OPEC nation's economic crisis” has recently become the headlines of Western media.

On September 22, 2018, the Chinese PLA Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark arrived at the port in La Guaira, Venezuela, kicking off an eight-day goodwill visit to the Caribbean country. This was the first time that a Chinese naval ship visited Venezuela.

In its September 24 report, the Associated Press (AP) said that interest in the goodwill visit has been building since the Pentagon announced it would send its own hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, to neighboring Colombia at the end of September to provide free medical treatment for Venezuelan migrants fleeing their homes amid widespread food and medicine shortages.

“The Chinese naval hospital ship’s port call has sent a clear signal to Washington: Don’t attempt to intervene militarily in Venezuela,” US media said.

Venezuela is the 38th country that the Peace Ark has visited. Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino greeted the Peace Ark at the port on September 22, local time.

The AP quoted Padrino, saying that the China-Venezuela relationship has set an example for state-to-state exchange in the world. “This is how you undertake diplomacy in the world,” Padrino said, “with concrete actions of cooperation and not stoking the false voices of those who beat the drum of war.” This is considered criticism against the US government’s recent threat to increase pressure on Venezuela. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on September 21 that the US was preparing a “series of actions” against Venezuela. US Senator Marco Rubio even called on the US government to conduct military intervention into Venezuela.

It is reported that during the Peace Ark's visit, officers and soldiers assigned to the PLA Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark would visit the Venezuelan government and military, as well as Venezuela’s military facilities and medical institutions. The two sides would also carry out a series of events including joint medical operations, academic communication and cultural exchange activities.

Reuters quoted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's post on Twitter on September 22, saying that the arrival of the Peace Ark heralds the beginning of “joint strategic operation” between Venezuela and China.

The English website of Russia Today (RT) said on September 24 that the Chinese hospital ship’s visit to Venezuela coincided with the US hospital ship’s visit to Colombia. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced at the end of August that the US was going to send its own hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, to Colombia in the coming few weeks.

According to the AP, in recent years, more than 2.3 million people have fled crisis-ridden Venezuela to seek asylum in countries like Colombia.

Venezuela is the first stop for the hospital ship Peace Ark’s tour in Latin America. The AP commented on September 24 that sending hospital ships has been the mainstay of US diplomacy in Latin America, and that the Chinese Peace Ark’s humanitarian tours around the world have become a sign of China’s “ambitions of gradually expanding its military influence abroad.”

Disclaimer: The authors are Xu Fang, Yu Wen and Jiang Shan with the Global Times. The article is translated and edited from Chinese into English by the China Military online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the authors from the Global Times and do not reflect the views of does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.


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