Centuries later, ships sail again to save lives

By PAN JIE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-10-17 10:07
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Editor's note: Admiral Zheng He's legacy has reached far and wide. This page looks at how Chinese medical ships have been carrying on his legacy six centuries later in line with the Belt and Road Initiative, and helping to cure patients around the world.

Peace Ark arrives on Sept 3 in the Port of Dili, Timor-Leste. Xu Wei / Xinhua

Peace Ark draws similarities with ancient Chinese explorer's voyages

Tears welled up in the eyes of the 40-year-old woman as she expressed gratitude for a surgery that delivered her from excruciating pain.

For nearly three years, Rosien Lelekele from the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu had endured severe agony because of gallstones. Her pain was only partially alleviated after treatment at a hospital in Port Vila, the capital.

When the Chinese medical ship Peace Ark sailed into the port on Aug 8, it came as a beacon of hope for Lelekele. On Aug 12, she underwent on board the vessel a surgery she had long needed — a laparoscopic removal of her gallbladder.

It was a routine procedure conducted in hospitals around the world but had never been performed before in Vanuatu. Lelekele was able to go home the next day.

"I love the Peace Ark, it was worth the wait," said Lelekele, while talking about the ship that has treated more than 290,000 people in the past 15 years.

The care that Peace Ark's personnel have delivered in the ports of 45 countries and regions has not only saved lives but has changed lives as well.

Turn the clock back six centuries or so, another Chinese maritime venture had already set a similar example.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), one of China's greatest naval explorers Zheng He commanded a fleet on seven voyages that took him to Southeast Asia, South Asia and Mogadishu in East Africa.

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