China can better protect nationals abroad

Updated: 2015-04-02 09:53

By Shen Dingli(

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China can better protect nationals abroad

The first group of 104 Chinese nationals evacuated from war-torn Yemen arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport late on March 31, 2015. Another 476 people were evacuated to Djibouti and were waiting for aircraft to fly back to China. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

The evacuation of Chinese from war-torn Yemen once again demonstrates China's capability to protect its nationals overseas at a rather short notice.

The conflict in Yemen has intensified and become more complicated as Shi'ite Houthi rebels advance on the capital Sana'a and government forces struggle to hold on. Besides, the Saudi Arabia-led air raids against the Houthi rebels have made the situation more chaotic.

Under such circumstances, China had to act promptly to protect its nationals working in Yemen. That's why, within hours of Saudi Arabia launching the air strikes on March 26, Beijing put its emergency evacuation plan into action. The next day, the Chinese naval fleet conducting routine anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 made a detour for Yemen. A day later, a Chinese naval flotilla reached the port of Aden, Yemen's temporary capital. And by March 30, the ships evacuated all the 571 Chinese nationals from Yemen. Five days, that's what China needed to execute the entire mission.

Because of China's extensive engagement with the rest of the world, many Chinese nationals today are working overseas. An estimated 1 million Chinese were working in Africa in 2011 when political chaos gripped Libya. Chinese studying, working or investing abroad act as a bridge between China and the world, but they are also exposed to all kind of risks, especially natural disasters and social unrest. To protect them from such risks, the government has to be well prepared to respond to emergencies, including launching rescue and relief operations, for which the Foreign Ministry has set up a department expressly for the purpose.

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