Boosting safety of Chinese nationals overseas
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.