Danger on road ahead over foreign contracts

Updated: 2012-02-22 07:25

By An Baijie and Xiang Mingchao (China Daily)

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Feb 10 called on Chinese people and companies overseas to strengthen security precautions.

"The recent abduction of Chinese workers in Sudan is a rare case, but it reflects the increasingly severe security situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said during a news briefing.

Li Taifu, chief of the labor bureau of Xinxian county in Henan, said the local government has taken special steps to ensure their workers' safety overseas.

"Before sending workers overseas, we assess the security risks of the destination first," he said.

The county government has set up a fund of 5 million yuan ($794,000) to compensate for the risk factor.

"More than 200 workers returned home after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March last year, and the government offered them compensation from the fund," he said. "Each worker could get between 5,000 and 20,000 yuan depending on how long they had been in Japan."

However, for those companies that have overseas business in more unstable countries, taking self-protection measures is more important.

Zhang Chengping, vice-president of CHICO, which has projects in nine African countries, said the company usually maintains a close relationship with local police and armed forces, which could protect them in cases of emergency.

"We should establish a harmonious relationship with the local government and people when we develop in Africa," Zhang said. "For example, we can help them build a primary school, or improve the working conditions of the local police."

Zhang said that Chinese companies should create job opportunities for local people in developing countries, which will help reduce any hostility toward Chinese people who they believe have taken their jobs.

"French retail giant Carrefour seldom hires French people in their Chinese branches, which should be an example for Chinese companies overseas," Zhang said.