Boost­ing safety of Chi­nese na­tion­als over­seas

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - XIN­HUA NEWS AGENCY

AChi­nese national has been found alive and trans­ferred to a safe place af­ter Thurs­day’s at­tack in the Afghan cap­i­tal Kabul that killed three Chi­nese cit­i­zens. An­other Chi­nese busi­ness per­son 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 China’s in­creas­ing in­te­gra­tion in the world econ­omy.

On June 24, four Chi­nese were mur­dered in a bak­ery in Pa­pua New Guinea’s cap­i­tal Port Moresby, and on the pre­vi­ous day, two Chi­nese moun­taineers were among those killed in a ter­ror­ist at­tack in Pak­istan-ad­min­is­trated Kash­mir.

Ear­lier that month, there was a drunken as­sault on six Chi­nese stu­dents in south­west France.

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

How­ever, such in­ci­dents are not al­ways in­ten­tion­ally tar­geted at Chi­nese na­tion­als, and they can also be seen as an in­evitable re­sult of China’s ever-deep­en­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in the glob­al­iza­tion process.

More than 83 mil­lion res­i­dents of the Chi­nese main­land trav­eled over­seas in 2012. More than 20,000 Chi­nese-in­vested en­ter­prises are op­er­at­ing over­seas and nearly 2 mil­lion Chi­nese stu­dents are at­tend­ing for­eign col­leges or schools.

The safety of Chi­nese na­tion­als over­seas could be ef­fec­tively bol­stered by em­ploy­ing a mul­ti­pronged ap­proach that com­bines the ef­forts of govern­ment, so­ci­ety, en­ter­prises and cit­i­zens, and which in­volves con­sular pro­tec­tion, pro­fes­sional aid groups, com­mer­cial in­sur­ers and per­sonal vig­i­lance.

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 was ev­i­dent in the mas­sive evac­u­a­tion op­er­a­tion of its na­tion­als from wartorn Libya in 2011 and in the re­cent han­dling of the af­ter­math of last month’s Asiana plane crash in San Fran­cisco that killed three Chi­nese teenage girls.

How­ever, con­sular ef­forts could be com­ple­mented by ser­vices and re­sources pro­vided by pro­fes­sional res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

More­over, Chi­nese cit­i­zens trav­el­ing abroad and en­ter­prises in­vest­ing in for­eign coun­tries are ad­vised to do more home­work on their des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing at­tain­ing a bet­ter knowl­edge of the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial con­di­tions, and the lo­cal cus­toms and laws, 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 vis­it­ing, and to en­deavor to pro­tect their per­sonal safety and prop­erty. And if any­thing does hap­pen to harm them, the host coun­try should act quickly to bring them back to safety and make sure jus­tice is served and the crim­i­nals are held ac­count­able.

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