29 July 2014
On board a Chinese hospital ship off Hawaii, crew members are demonstrating traditional massage techniques to United States sailors. The mood is one of collegiality, even after China opted out of Japan-led humanitarian drills at the world’s largest international naval exercise.
There are no guns in sight as Senior Captain Sun Tao stands on the deck of the Peace Ark, which is taking part in the five week-long Rim of the Pacific Exercise, or Rimpac. On board the ship, sailors tuck into fatty pork and steamed buns, and watch President Xi Jinping on state TV, while others give out Chinese massages.
“The Chinese navy now is acting on orders to have a cooperative and open attitude,” says Capt Sun, as Chinese navy cameramen film reporters visiting the ship’s eight operating theatres, dental facilities and CT scanner. “I think areas for cooperation are growing.”
… “China’s participation is motivated by fame, friendship and fear,” says Mr Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. “The hospital ship shows China wants to present a benign image, that its naval modernisation is actually beneficial to the region. The spy ship shows there is still a trust deficit between the two sides.”
IDSS / RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 29/07/2014