An epic evacuation epitomizes China's people-first philosophy

09:42, March 06, 2011      

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China is who all the overseas Chinese can turn to in time of need. This truth has just been confirmed once again by the country's unprecedented success of evacuating its endangered citizens from violence-torn Libya.

Within merely nine days and eight nights, all Chinese nationals in Libya intending to leave, 35,860 in total, were brought safely out of the Northern African country in Beijing's latest overseas evacuation operation, its largest and most complicated since 1949.

Some of the evacuees were flown back to China directly from Libya, while the vast majority were transferred to a third country by land, sea and air, before taking chartered flights home. The whole operation is expected to conclude as early as Saturday night.

The extraordinary feat embodies the decisive leadership of the Chinese government; the swift and coordinated action of different government organs, diplomatic missions, state-run enterprises and the military; and the fruitful application of China's peace-oriented foreign policy.

Behind the globally admired accomplishment is a country boasting powerful national strength, capable institutions and stable society and headed by a government dedicated to a people-first philosophy.

AN ALL-OUT RACE AGAINST TIME

Since Libya plunged into political turmoil and bloody clashes in mid-February, rampant violence threw the tens of thousands Chinese citizens in Libya into harm's way.

A number of projects operated by Chinese businesses were ransacked, thousands of Chinese workers were stranded with scant basic supplies, and many were even in life-threatening danger.

Deeply concerned about the wellbeing of these compatriots thousands of miles away, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao late on the night of Feb. 21 ordered authorities immediately to take effective measures to guarantee the safety of the lives and properties of the Chinese nationals in Libya.

From this, an all-out effort got under way. Under the command of a special taskforce headed by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang and involving a wide spectrum of government bodies and state-run enterprises, all necessary resources were mobilized to withdraw the 35,000 from the 1.76 million square km country on the other side of the world as soon as possible.

Among the many participants in the massive exodus, the Foreign Ministry assisted evacuees with entry and exit procedures, the Civil Aviation Administration organized a host of chartered flights to bring them home, the Navy sent a frigate to escort evacuation vessels, and the Air Force dispatched four transport aircraft to provide extra airlift.

At the forefront of this complex operation were the Chinese diplomats stationed in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Malta and Sudan, who braved formidable dangers and overcame tremendous difficulties to pioneer different exit routes, facilitate the mass retreat and provide for the evacuees.

Thanks to the systematic approach to the project and the painstaking efforts of thousands of staff, this race against time proceeded efficiently and smoothly, with thousands of evacuees being pulled out of Libya every day on average during the process.

Meanwhile, this unprecedented overseas evacuation created a handful of precedents. Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao said it was the first such operation to combine sea, land and air transportation; the first to charter foreign aircraft, vessels and vehicles; the first to involve military ships and planes; and the first to cooperate with several friendly countries.

The desolate Libyan desert and the crowded border crossings, the busy Libyan ports of Benghazi and Misurata and the overloaded Tripoli airport, and the Mediterranean Sea and the skies above have borne witness to China's deep commitment to its people.

"You can trust the Chinese government! You can trust us! We will not leave anyone behind!" Liu Meikun, economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese embassy in Malta, assured some 100 Chinese workers when they were stopped from boarding a chartered evacuation vessel at Benghazi on Feb. 24.

After two hours of intensive coordination and consultation, the skipper of the ocean liner finally allowed all the passengers on board. Upon hearing the news, those anxious evacuees burst into tearful cheers.

Source:Xinhua

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