Military to play wider rescue role

By Fu Wen Source:Global Times Published: 2011-2-28 17:38:00

A senior naval official said Saturday that the Chinese military plays an essential role in protecting its overseas citizens amid international security crises, and such actions should be normalized and become regular in the future.

Yin Zhuo, a rear admiral and senior researcher with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Equipment Research Center, told China National Radio Saturday that efforts to evacuate citizens put in danger by the turmoil in Libya represented an important breakthrough for the Chinese navy.

Yin made the analysis after top military authorities sent a missile frigate to Libya late Thursday to evacuate Chinese citizens living in the country.

"This convoy mission sets an excellent example of the Chinese navy upholding the nation's interests overseas, and highlights the navy's participation in a national emergency response mechanism for the protection of overseas citizens," said Yin.

Having been approved by the Central Military Commission, the missile frigate Xuzhou is scheduled to enter the Mediterranean at Beijing time 3 am Monday morning, after two days of high-speed sailing from the Gulf of Aden, the PLA Daily reported Sunday.

The Xuzhou is part of the seventh convoy fleet of the Chinese navy, which is currently on an anti-pirate convoy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

"The Chinese frigate will help secure the process of evacuation through the ocean and provide coordination services for the operation of evacuation boats that we chartered from Greece," Yin added.

Wang Lixin, political commissar of the Xuzhou, announced Saturday that it is the first time China is using its military forces overseas to protect stranded citizens.

China is also organizing as many planes as possible to help evacuate Chinese citizens from Libya. The Civil Aviation Administration of China held an emergency meeting Saturday night, agreeing to send 15 flights per day for evacuation starting today and ending March 10, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.

More than 20,000 Chinese citizens had been evacuated from Libya by 10 am Sunday, 1,400 of whom have already returned to China. Temporary stays have been arranged for some 15,000 in a neighboring country, and about 3,400 are on their way to a third country, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Most Chinese citizens in Benghazi and other regions of east Libya have been evacuated, while cruise ships chartered by the Chinese embassy and cargo ships owned by Chinese companies are heading to ports at central Libya to evacuate more Chinese citizens.

China has 36,000 staff working in 75 companies in Libya, of which 27 had been robbed, burned or had construction equipment and materials destroyed during the unrest, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Posted in: China Watch

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