BEIJING — A Chinese navy hospital ship will set sail Thursday to visit 11 countries including Vanuatu, where Australia has warned Beijing against building a military base.
The Defense Ministry said that during the tour, the ship Peace Ark will provide humanitarian assistance and free medical aid and conduct exchanges, including opening the ship for visits.
The Peace Ark’s humanitarian tours around the world have become a sign of China’s outreach efforts and ambitions of gradually expanding its military influence abroad.
In May, China and Vanuatu denied media reports that Beijing had approached the South Pacific nation about building a permanent military presence there. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Monday that Australia will negotiate a security treaty with Vanuatu, just weeks after he warned China against building a base there.