Close to 100 Barbadians will have an opportunity over the next few days to receive medical assistance from the visiting Chinese naval hospital, Ark Peace.
The November 26 to December 3 visit is part of the vessel’s goodwill tour throughout the Caribbean.
At a special reception on Saturday evening the 398 crew members of Ark Peace hosted dignitaries including acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy and other government officials, on a tour of the vessel.
Acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy (second right) and Labour Minister Dr Esther Byer (right) meet with crew members of Ark Peace.
The 4000m vessel, which was commissioned in 2008, is the only one in Beijing and has so far visited 27 countries, providing medical care to over 19,000 patients.
China’s Ambassador to Barbados Wang Ke said the visiting ship’s 81-day voyage to Barbados is a testament to the deepening of 38 years of cooperation between the two countries.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Ke (centre) with acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy (left) and Senior Captain Guan Bailin.
“This December marks two momentous occasions in China-Barbados relations, the redevelopment project of Sam Lords Castle and the Chinese hospital ship,” Ke said, noting that this is the first time a foreign hospital ship is visiting the island to provide free medical care to locals.
Acting Prime Minister Sealy welcomed the Chinese navy, stating that their presence is “further evidence of the relations … being further concretised”.
He cited events such as the Fish and Dragon Festival, the graduation of cohorts from Confucius Centre at the University Of Cave Hill, as well as programmes like the preferential buyers credit loan from the Export Import Bank of China as examples of the strengthening ties between Bridgetown and Bejing, and said government looks forward to even more cooperation in the future.
“We look forward to refurbishment of the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium … to further cultural exchanges between people, especially the young people of Barbados and the People’s Republic of China.
“This visit forms another cornerstone of these ever improving relationships that is between Barbados and the People’s Republic of China,” Sealy said.
The Ark Peace will be open to the public until December 1 from 8: 30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. (KK)