Chinese in Iraq unaffected despite US embassy evacuation

By Chen Xi and Sun Haoran Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/17 16:58:40

Despite the US decision to withdraw personnel from Iraq as tensions mounted between the US and Iraq's neighbor Iran, Chinese employees working in Iraq said their lives and work were unaffected. 

The US State Department has ordered "non-emergency US government employees" to leave the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil in Iraq on Wednesday, and the department said that its citizens in Iraq are at high risk of violence and kidnapping, according to a statement released on the website of the US Department of State. 

The US military reaffirmed concerns this week about possible imminent threats from Iran to its troops in Iraq amid US-Iranian tensions since US President Donald Trump's decision to try to cut off all of Iran's oil exports, media reported.

However, employees from Chinese enterprises in Iraq said they did not see much influence on their work and lives after the US had ordered its non-emergency personnel to leave Iraq. 

"A staff member from the Chinese Embassy has warned us to pay close attention to the security situation in Iraq and take necessary protective measures, but the embassy has not issued any restrictions on our business activities in Iraq so far," Li Jianwei, Iraqi Country Manager of Chinese oil and gas company Jereh Global Iraq Branch, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"The situation here is not as serious as what it was said to be by most media and everything here is the same as usual. Our companies have already designed emergency response plans, such as wartime evacuation site selection, evacuation route and vehicle selection under different tension levels, to ensure our safety", said Wang Tong, the Marketing Manager of Shangdong Taikai Power Engineering Company stationed to Iraq two months ago, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Both Li and Wang said they did not worry about their safety or business in Iraq even if tensions escalate in the future. 

"I have confidence in China's comprehensive national strength and international influence. With such a strong motherland behind us, we have no doubt that she will ensure our evacuation from this country safely just like in the mega-hit movie Wolf Warrior 2 even if a war happened," Li said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly voiced firm opposition to the unilateral sanctions and so-called "long-arm jurisdiction" that the US imposes on Iran.

"There are about 30,000 to 40,000 Chinese employees working in Iraq right now, mainly in the fields of oil, electricity, and municipal engineering. Chinese companies have made great contributions in increasing employment, reducing poverty, and enhancing China-Iraq relations," Chen Xianzhong, a reporter who has 36 years experience in Iraq, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The bilateral trade volume between China and Iran reached $22.1 billion in 2017. Chinese companies have cooperated with Iraq in the fields of oil, electricity, and cement, and plan to cooperate with Iraq in the reconstruction of people's livelihood and infrastructure, according to the Chinese Embassy in Iraq.

Posted in: POLITICS

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