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Navy's Peace Ark makes stop in Angola

By Zhang Zhihao | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-10-29 14:25

Hospital ship's goodwill journey will include providing medical help for patients en route

China's naval hospital ship made its first visit to Angola on Oct 19 to provide free medical services and humanitarian aid, the Defense Ministry said.

The CNS Daishandao, also known as Peace Ark, is making the eight-day goodwill visit to the southwest African country during its first voyage around the continent, code-named Harmonious Mission 2017.

The ship has visited other African countries, including Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Gabon and Republic of Congo. It will visit Mozambique and Tanzania. It will also visit the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia during its 155-day mission.

"This mission is an important military diplomacy event that can test and sharpen our medical ship's overseas capability," Ding Haichun, deputy-commissar of the PLA Navy, said at the ship's departure ceremony in July.

"It will fully showcase China shouldering international duties as a responsible big nation and promote the Chinese military's sincere attitude toward maintaining peace and caring for lives," he added.

The visit began when the ship arrived at the port of Luanda, Angola's capital. Officials and representatives from the Angolan Navy, the Chinese embassy and overseas companies held a welcoming ceremony.

The visit will include a range of activities, including providing free health services to the public and other medical and military exchanges, the ministry said.

The ship will serve as the main platform for patients. At the same time, small teams of doctors will go to general hospitals in Angola to assist with treatment.

China and Angola established formal relations in 1983 and upgraded the ties to a strategic partnership in 2010. Since 2009, China has sent four teams totaling 57 medical personnel to Angola.

The Peace Ark has 110 doctors and medical workers from the Second Military Medical University and the Navy General Hospital of the People's Liberation Army. It has participated in six Harmonious Missions, the first in 2010.

He Wenping, director of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says sailing around Africa is a testament to China's growing overseas logistical capabilities, especially for medical services.

"At first, our medical ship could only reach a few nations in Asia and the South Pacific. Now it can cover the entire coast of Africa, and provide a wider range of services from checkups to complex surgeries," she says.

"Africa is also developing fast, with growing investment from China. But the people still lack doctors and medicine," she adds. "The Chinese Navy is showing great moral standards and compassion by helping the African people in need."

 Navy's Peace Ark makes stop in Angola

Guan Bolin (center), the mission commander of China's naval hospital ship, the Peace Ark, greets well-wishers after the vessel arrived at the port of Luanda in Angola. The ship, which can handle major surgeries, will provide eight days of free medical services and humanitarian aid to local residents. In addition, Chinese doctors will assist patient treatments in hospitals. Jiang Shan / Xinhua

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