Exclusive: Chinese embassy in Ukraine mulls alternative plans apart from charter flights to evacuate Chinese nationals amid rising tensions
Evacuation plan to be launched as soon as safety premises are met: embassy
Published: Feb 27, 2022 08:11 PM
Firefighters work by a damaged apartment building in Kyiv which was hit by a recent shelling during Russiaa??s military intervention in Ukraine, on February 26, 2022. Photo: IC

Firefighters work by a damaged apartment building in Kyiv which was hit by a recent shelling during Russiaa??s military intervention in Ukraine, on February 26, 2022. Photo: IC

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The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine is mulling alternative plans to evacuate local Chinese apart from charter flights amid the deteriorating situation in the country, and as long as safety premises are met, they will immediately take action and launch the evacuation plan, the embassy told Global Times in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

The embassy is doing its best to safeguard Chinese nationals, offering first-hand information, 24/7 contact, and timely help and assurances to local Chinese in need, it said.   

As the Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine rejected rumors he had left the country in a video and vowed to protect his fellow citizens in a time of adversity, a number of Chinese nationals have spoken up and expressed their heartfelt thanks to the embassy for reaching out for them when they were caught in trouble, they told the Global Times. 

"Given the situation in Ukraine, the first thing we need to do is to assure our Chinese nationals and ease their anxiety. We must get in touch with them more, to hear their needs and make sure they can contact the embassy at any time. Therefore, worrying that the previous consular protection number may not be enough, we have added more contact channels so they can always reach out to us. This will also help stabilize their mood," an embassy staffer told the Global Times on Sunday. 

For Chinese nationals in the country who do not speak Ukrainian, the embassy has set up a number of WeChat groups and published notices on the embassy website to inform fellow citizens of safety reminders and precautions in a timely manner, for example, staying home and avoiding windows when indoors, avoiding going out during curfews, and not to take photos or videos of the streets. 

"Another most important thing for now is to prepare for the evacuation of Chinese nationals. Under current circumstances, there are many Chinese people applying to go back to China, and we are working intensively on this task, which is complex and systematic work involving many variables," the embassy said, adding it is working on intricate plans and liaising closely with the Ukrainian side.  

The embassy said it is unable to organize evacuation charter flights for now as the safety of evacuees cannot be guaranteed. There are strict controls on airspace as well as the danger posed by missile attacks and bombardments. However, they are considering alternatives, noting that as long as safety premises are met, they will immediately launch the evacuation plan, the embassy told the Global Times. 

There are around 6,000 Chinese nationals in Ukraine, the embassy said.

The Chinese ambassador to Ukraine Fan Xianrong rejected rumors that he has left the country in a video released on early Sunday morning, saying that he is still in Kiev facing this difficult time together with all fellow citizens. "I want to make it clear that Chinese ambassadors will never leave the Chinese people behind on their own. This is not how Chinese ambassadors are, and it is not what members of the Communist Party of China are like!"

The situation in Ukraine has become more difficult with the constant sounds of sirens, explosions and gunfire, and there may be many unpredictable changes in the coming days, the ambassador said, reminding Chinese nationals to avoid confrontations with local people, or recording scenes out of curiosity, and to especially stay away from military-related personnel or facilities.

The Ukrainian people are going through a hard time, the Chinese ambassador added, and we should have more understanding toward them and show the friendliness and rationality that the Chinese people have always had. He noted that China respects Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and hopes the current crisis will be resolved through political negotiations.

During such times of adversity, the expat Chinese people have spoken up about their experiences and expressed heartfelt thanks to the embassy for its efforts to ensure their personal safety and that of their property.  

The Global Times learned that some 40 employees in Ukraine of Chinese tech-giant Huawei had been stuck in heavy traffic while trying to drive out of the country to Slovakia on Saturday due to long tailbacks on the roads approaching border crossings. Appealing to the embassy for assistance, the embassy liaised with relevant departments and eventually helped them arrive in Slovakia safely. 

A student surnamed Zhou from the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University in Kiev told the Global Times on Sunday that her apartment was seriously affected by a sudden explosion of a residential building about 300 meters away from her on Saturday. She called the embassy saying that her building was badly damaged and all the glass was shattered, and there were about 20 Chinese students affected.

The management staff at her school relocated them to a nearby parking lot with no heating along with 80 local residents, and the students were terrified and ran out of food and water. 

The embassy contacted the school and the ministry of education after the incident, and eventually allowed them to move to another shelter with heat and better conditions, and have kept in touch with the students to care for their needs, said Zhou. 

"I was so touched by their heartwarming gestures, and hoped I could do something in return," Zhou said. She told the embassy staff that she would like to volunteer and help out on the evacuation, and "although I am not a Party member, I can also contribute my part to the country."

In addition, the embassy is also helping Chinese enterprises to protect their factories and farmlands in the engagement areas so that their property can be secured. They are also providing assistance to Chinese nationals who are leaving the country on their immigration procedures.