China evacuates nationals from chaotic Libya

08:24, February 23, 2011      

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China will dispatch chartered flights and its cargo ships now operating in the Mediterranean to be ready in aiding evacuation of Chinese citizens from unrest-ravaged Libya as political turmoil has not abated in the North African state.

The prime-time evening news on CCTV, China's national broadcaster, Tuesday led with a statement that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered"all-out efforts to secure the life and property of Chinese nationals in Libya."

A government task force, led by Vice-Premer Zhang Dejiang and State Councillor Dai Bingguo, was set up Tuesday by Beijing to lead and orchestrate efforts for evacuating Chinese citizens, including compatriots from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, from Libya.

The task force decided at a meeting Tuesday in Beijing to immediately send chartered flights from Chinese airlines with medical and food supplies to the region.

Meanwhile, Moammar Gadhafi, the defiant Libyan leader, vowed to fight to his "last drop of blood" and urged his supporters to strike back against Libyan protesters to defend his embattled rule Tuesday, signaling an escalation of the unrest and violence in the oil-rich country.

After a week of upheaval, protesters backed by defecting army units have claimed control over almost the entire eastern half of Libya's 1,000-mile Mediterranean coast, including several oil-producing areas, according to reports.

There are estimated 33,000 Chinese nationals living or working in Libya.

Apart from chartered flights, ships from the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO), as well as Chinese fishing boats operating in nearby waters, will also carry supplies and help an evacuation, the task force said.

At a regular news briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China was very concerned about the current situation in Libya.

China hopes the African country "can restore social stability and political order as soon as possible", he added.

Since the unrest erupted in Libya on February16, there has been vandalism, looting and arson, said Ma, adding that Chinese nationals had been injured and company property assaulted by the unruly.

The Ministry of Commerce has also recommended Chinese business people planning to visit Libya postpone trip and wait for the dust to calm down.

Latest reports said a construction site run by Huafeng Construction Co Ltd from Ningbo, Zhejiang province was looted by armed gangs on Sunday in the eastern city of Agedabia, and nearly 1,000 Chinese workers there were forced to leave their on-site living quarters. No casualties were reported.

The company Tuesday confirmed the employees were safe and had stayed in a local school. Local people had provided them with food and water.

A Chinese embassy spokesperson in Libya, Du Minghao, confirmed on Tuesday that dozens of Chinese citizens had been injured, 15 of whom were in hospital. Du also said that Chinese invested companies and construction sites had been vandalized.

Other foreigners have also been targeted in Libya. On Monday, some 500 local people looted a South Korean construction site west of Tripoli, the South Korean foreign ministry said.

People's Daily Online


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