China to buy cruise ships as pandemic hits

China is expected to buy three cruise ships and one cruise ship passenger vessel, as the coronavirus crisis intensifies, state media said Tuesday.

China has already ordered 14 cruise ships for its coastal cities of Shenzhen and Tianjin, Xinhua reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The source said the ships would be used by the Chinese government for humanitarian aid, with Chinese ships also using them for military and law enforcement purposes.

The news comes as a U.S. Navy carrier strike group headed to the Gulf to conduct drills with Saudi Arabian naval forces in the first major U.A.E. deployment since the coronovirus crisis began.

China will also begin shipping cruise ships to foreign ports, the Xinhua report said.

The first cruise ships were ordered by the Guangdong Maritime Administration in April and will be delivered by the end of June, the source said.

The government has yet to announce a price for the ships, which the government has said would be about $2 billion.

The announcement is likely to be made at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 26, Xinhan reported.