China may have sent and publicized this vessel’s deployment to look good after angering other states over militarization, experts say.

“Making big announcements about a humanitarian activity is kind of just trying to put a friendly veneer on top of what is pretty clearly militarization. It’s a kind of bluewashing,”* said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

China commands the world’s second largest economy, dwarfing those of Southeast Asia.

Countries with “greater power” and China’s level of resources also have a greater responsibility to offer humanitarian aid, Spangler said.  [* Quote corrected]