Multiple-pronged approach suggested to boost safety of Chinese nationals overseas

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-11 19:12:12

A Chinese national has returned to safety after Thursday's attack in Afghan capital Kabul that killed three Chinese self-employed business people. Another Chinese citizen is still missing.

The incident drew wide attention from home and abroad, as the issue of the safety of Chinese nationals overseas becomes more and more prominent with the China's increasing integration with the world economy.

On June 24, four Chinese were murdered in a bakery in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby, and on the previous day, two Chinese mountaineers died along with other victims in a terrorist attack in Pakistan-administrated Kashmir.

Earlier that month, six Chinese students were attacked in southwestern France by three local drunkards.

According to recent data from China's foreign ministry, the number of such incidents involving Chinese nationals overseas is on the rise and now the ministry and its embassies and consulates are handling an average of about 100 consular protection cases everyday.

However, some analysts pointed out that such incidents are not always intentionally targeting Chinese nationals, and from a global perspective they could also be viewed as an inevitable phenomenon during China's ever-deepening participation in the globalization process.

Statistics from the Chinese foreign ministry also show that more than 83 million residents of the Chinese mainland traveled overseas in 2012, a quantum leap from the much slimmer outbound crowd of 200,000 more than three decades years ago. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 Chinese-invested enterprises are operating overseas and nearly two million Chinese students are attending foreign colleges or schools.

Although such incidents cannot' be totally averted, but as some experts suggested, with a multi-pronged approach involving consular protection, professional aid groups, commercial insurers and personal vigilance and combining the efforts of government, society, enterprise and citizen, the safety of Chinese nationals overseas could be effectively bolstered.

Consular protection is vital in ensuring the safety of Chinese nationals overseas. In recent years, Beijing has established a comprehensive coordination and emergency response mechanism to protect its citizens in foreign countries, and the system's effectiveness is evident in the massive evacuation operation of its nationals from war-torn Libya in 2011 and in the most recent handling of the aftermath of last month's Asiana airliner crash in San Francisco that killed three Chinese teenage girls.

On the other hand, the effort could be complemented by services and resources provided by professional rescue organizations and insurance companies as suggested by some experts.

Moreover, for Chinese citizens travelling abroad and enterprises investing in foreign countries, they are advised do more homework before leaving the homeland, including attaining a better knowledge of the political, social conditions as well as customs and laws of their destination, making a thorough risk evaluation if the situation of the foreign country is unstable, and doing a serious study of how consular protection works.

Of course, under international norms, every host country has a solemn obligation to protect the legal rights of Chinese nationals living, studying or travelling there and guarantee their personal and property safety. And if anything dangerous happens to them, the host country need to act quickly to bring them back to safety and make sure the justice is served and the criminals are held accountable.

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