China Hospital Ship to Set Sail for Philippine Typhoon Zone

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - China is sending a state-of-the-art hospital ship to the Philippines following foreign and domestic criticism that it was slow and less than generous in its response to one of the world's biggest typhoons, which killed at least 4,000 people.

China Hospital Ship to Set Sail for Philippine Typhoon Zone

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing confirmed on Tuesday the deployment of the 14,000-tons "Peace Ark" as state television reported the arrival of the first batch of Chinese relief supplies in the Philippines.

Exactly where the Ark will operate and when it will arrive have not yet been confirmed, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Ark would set sail as soon as possible, Reuters reported.

"China has always been concerned about the Philippines typhoon disaster," he said. "In the spirit of helping the dying and healing the injured, we plan to send rescue workers to the disaster area."

Tension between China and the Philippines had risen in recent months over disputed claims in the South China Sea, with Manila taking Beijing to a United Nations court to challenge its historic claim to much of the strategic waterway.

China's usually hawkish Global Times, a tabloid owned by the government mouthpiece, the People's Daily, last week urged the deployment of the Ark amid criticism of Beijing's response by foreign commentators.

China, the world's second-largest economy, initially announced it was giving $200,000 and then bumped that up by $1.6 million. On Sunday, it said it was ready to send rescue and medical teams.

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