PLA naval vessels evacuate more than 1,300 Chinese and citizens of 5 other countries from Sudan
Published: Apr 27, 2023 12:51 PM Updated: Apr 27, 2023 12:41 PM
Photo: Wu Kangci

Photo: Wu Kangci

More than 1,300 Chinese personnel have been safely evacuated as of Thursday afternoon after the Chinese military sent naval vessels to evacuate Chinese nationals from Sudan on Wednesday. The Global Times learned that this is the third time the Chinese Navy has carried out such evacuation missions, and only the second time that a Chinese warship has directly docked at a foreign port for evacuation missions.

As the security situation in Sudan continues to deteriorate, in order to protect the lives and property of Chinese personnel in Sudan, the Chinese military, in accordance with the unified deployment, sent naval vessels to Sudan on Wednesday, Beijing time, to evacuate Chinese personnel stranded in the country, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, said on Thursday.

Wu Xi, director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry, said the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) urgently mobilized warships in the Gulf of Aden to Sudan to carry out evacuation operations. 

Photo: Li Yinuo

Photo: Li Yinuo

So far, more than 1,300 Chinese personnel have been safely evacuated. Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China has helped citizens of five other countries evacuate on Chinese vessels, Mao Ning, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday.

The troops on the evacuation mission are from the guided missile destroyer Nanning and the Type 903 comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu, which were carrying out the 43rd escort mission of the PLA Navy. They were carrying a ship-borne helicopter and have more than 490 officers and soldiers, including dozens of special operations soldiers. Among the 678 people evacuated in the first batch, 668 were Chinese nationals and 10 were foreigners, according to the official WeChat account of the Chinese Navy.

Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on Tuesday that through the efforts of all parties, most Chinese citizens in Sudan have been evacuated in groups in an orderly and safe way to border ports or neighboring countries, and the next step will be properly arranged.

A person involved in the evacuation mission told the Global Times on Wednesday that it was the third similar operation by the Chinese Navy, and the second time that a Chinese warship has been used to directly dock at a foreign port to carry out evacuation missions.

In 2011, missile frigate Xuzhou was sent to Libya to carry out an evacuation mission, which was the first time the Chinese Navy has participated in overseas evacuation operations, setting a new record for the Chinese military's non-war military deployment.

The evacuation of Chinese personnel from Yemen in 2015 was the first time that Chinese warships were directly docked at foreign ports for an evacuation mission.

Photo: Ding Jiaxing

Photo: Ding Jiaxing

In general, there are many ways to evacuate, such as chartered civil aviation flights and renting foreign cruise ships. In the case of a deteriorating security environment, the use of armed forces to carry out evacuation missions means more security guarantees.

This mission once again proves that the PLA Navy is ready to fulfill various missions and responsibilities entrusted by the state. 

"Both the evacuation operation in Yemen in 2015 and the latest military operation faced the same dangerous environment, with conflicts occurring in both port countries. However, compared with the previous mission, this time the ship needed to sail from the Gulf of Aden through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait into the Red Sea to reach the port of Sudan, which required a longer voyage, which is two or three days," the person mentioned above said.

"On the other hand, it also proved that the operation was planned quickly, prepared timely, and carried out quickly… I believe a mature and practical emergency plan has been formed in terms of coordination, command and support," he said.

The UN Special Representative for Sudan, Volker Perthes, said that as of the morning of Tuesday, local time, 427 people had been killed in the conflict and more than 3,700 injured. Although a 72-hour ceasefire has begun, parties to the conflict had not fully committed to the ceasefire and show no signs of being willing to negotiate seriously. 

In the face of this situation, the docking of warships at ports requires coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and other departments, as well as the Chinese Embassy in Sudan and local authorities, the expert noted.

At the same time, this evacuation operation is also conducive to testing the various capabilities of the Navy in carrying out non-war military operations, conducive to the Chinese Navy accumulating experience and further improving the military capabilities to carry out emergency missions.

According to the introduction, in recent years, the PLA Navy has played an active role in escort missions at the Gulf of Aden in protecting overseas citizens' interests and fulfilling international responsibilities, accumulating rich experience. The routine escorting in the Gulf of Aden has made the Chinese Navy very familiar with the nearby sea conditions and having a good understanding of local hydrological and meteorological conditions. 

With the entry of new domains and new advanced forces, the voyages of new warships continue to extend, and the pace of development of the far-sea defense combat equipment and force system is constantly accelerating. The comprehensive combat capabilities of the Navy have been greatly improved in terms of overall capability. At the same time, this non-war military operation further tests the actual combat capabilities of the Chinese Navy, once again proving that the Chinese Navy can play a significant role in the depths of the ocean.