With the arrival of the second group of 310 overseas Chinese evacuees from the unrest-hit Solomon Islands early Tuesday morning, China has evacuated a total of 325 Chinese nationals safe and sound to the motherland.
The group, including 21 Hong Kong compatriots, arrived at Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province after a 6-hour flight from Papua New Guinea by a chartered plane of China Southern Airlines. The first group of 15 evacuees returned to Guangzhou and Shanghai on April 23.
"I was scared day and night for the past few days," Li Chaoe, a middle-aged woman, said upon arrival. "Now I feel secured and calm as I am back home." Li was back together with her 90-year-old grandfather and three kids.
During the recent unrest in the Solomon Islands, a lot of residences and shops in the Chinatown of the capital city of Honiara were looted and set on fire. Hundreds of local Chinese residents were forced to flee their homes.
Since China and the Solomon Islands do not have diplomatic relations, the Chinese embassy to Papua New Guinea chartered planes to fly overseas Chinese in the Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea.
The second batch of Chinese evacuees from the Solomon Islands were warmly received by people of various circles in Guangdong Tuesday morning.
"Seeing you returned safe and sound, we feel much comforted," Deputy Governor of Guangdong Province Tang Bingquan said at the airport.
"We will try our best to settle whatever difficulties you encounter in life," Tang said.
A special work group, consisting of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security, the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs of the State Council, and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, was also in Guangzhou to facilitate the evacuation and resettlement mission.
"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan," said Zhu Taoying, head of the special work group and deputy director of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.
The provincial government of Guangdong has offered to help reunite the Chinese evacuees with their relatives and provide basic support services.
Most of the group were Guangdong emigrants or descended from Guangdong people, so the priority of the provincial government is to help them contact family members or relatives, said Lu Weixiong, head of the provincial office of overseas Chinese affairs.
The Chinese evacuees of Guangdong origin have primarily been settled by Tuesday morning and the Hong Kong compatriots plan to leave Guangzhou for Hong Kong Tuesday noon, sources with the provincial office of overseas Chinese affairs said Tuesday morning.
"Although the number of Chinese evacuees from the Solomon Islands is not the biggest nor the evacuees are injured, the Chinese government's efforts to evacuate all Chinese there signified a major change in its protection of overseas Chinese," said Lin Xixing, a professor with Jinan University in Guangdong.
The rapid evacuation of the Chinese nationals from a country which has no diplomatic relations with China has manifested the strong responsibility and high efficiency of the Chinese government in helping overseas Chinese, the expert said.