Chinese citizens urged to leave Afghanistan amid worsening security situation
Published: Jun 21, 2021 10:43 PM
An Afghan police officer keeps watch at the site of a bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 10, 2021. Photo: IC

An Afghan police officer keeps watch at the site of a bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 10, 2021. Photo: IC

Chinese citizens in Afghanistan have been alerted to be more cautious and prepared for the worsening security situation in the country as Chinese foreign affairs authorities issued a new safety warning for Chinese people there and reminded them to leave the country as soon as possible.

The move came amid a "security vacuum" in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US-led troops, as experts said this would probably lead to potential chaos in the country and offers no guarantee for the safety of foreign citizens in the war-torn country.

The Global Times learned from some sources that many Chinese citizens have left since the end of 2020 and those who have stayed were asked to store more food and supplies in case of an emergency.

A Chinese enterprise employee working on a project around Kabul told the Global Times on Sunday that it was difficult to continue the project given the unstable situation and the impact of the epidemic. People who remain there stay indoors and could not go out.

Alarms frequently sounded and gunfire was sometimes heard around the project site, said the employee, adding that they could often see helicopters circling overhead.

The Department of Consular Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a safety warning on Saturday to alert Chinese citizens and institutions in Afghanistan to be more cautious, suggesting they take advantage of international commercial flights to leave. 

Due to continuous internal conflicts and frequent terrorist attacks since the beginning of 2021, the security environment in Afghanistan has become more serious and complex, it said, adding that the warning will be effective until the end of 2021. 

The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan also made an announcement on May 27 that warned Chinese people not to go to the country. 

The security environment in Afghanistan has greatly worsened in the wake of the US pullout, which leaves foreign citizens there at higher risk of being targeted and attacked, said Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University. 

The instability of Afghanistan previously could at least be foreseen and controlled, but now the Afghanistan government has become less able to provide enough protection for foreign citizens there, he told the Global Times on Sunday.

Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, said in a report from Nikkei Asia on Monday that the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan could cause a "security vacuum" and "an increased level of fighting." 

Zhu said the number of foreigners in Afghanistan is not big but the group of Chinese people is relatively larger than that of some other foreign nationals. 

The Global Times learned from some Chinese currently living in Afghanistan that the food and vegetable supply is still stable in the capital city Kabul, and the local Chinese project sites were asked by the embassy to be stocked with emergency supplies enough for 45 to 60 days, including food, water and anti-epidemic supplies, to cope with possible price increases and supply shortages in the event of conflict in areas around the capital. 

Vegetables have also been planted in many sites to provide a buffer in case of an emergency.

Mansoor Faizy, editor-in-chief of the Afghanistan Times, told the Global Times that the warning issued by many diplomatic missions in Kabul for their citizens to leave Afghanistan is "not a good sign at all" and "shows that Kabul is no longer a safe city even after the presence of foreign troops for almost 20 years."

He said the international community's fight against extremism and to bring stability in Afghanistan has failed, and the US is withdrawing, leaving Afghanistan to an uncertain future. 

"Every country is worried about their citizens stationed in Afghanistan, but what about the Afghans who are sacrificing due to the failed policy of the international community?" he asked.