Chinese legislators applaud unprecedented evacuation efforts, call for stability

08:24, March 04, 2011      

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China's unprecedented move to evacuate over 35,000 of its nationals from Libya has been applauded at home as "a demonstration of the government's care for the people" and "a symbol of rising national strength."

National legislators in Beijing for the upcoming annual parliamentary session said Thursday the government's evacuation endeavor, the largest ever since 1949, had been "prompt, efficient and successful."

They also agreed that the Libya case again highlighted the significance of social stability as "no one could prosper without peace and stability."

"This has demonstrated the spirit of government's people-first policy and the greatness of socialism with Chinese characteristics," said Prof. Zhou Guangquan with Tsinghua University.

Zhou, also a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy, said he was impressed by the government's efforts to mobilize all possible resources within less than ten days to bring the people home successfully.

Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Song Tao said a total of 35,860 Chinese citizens had been evacuated from riot-torn Libya as of 11:10 p.m. Wednesday Beijing Time, the largest and the most complicated overseas evacuation ever conducted by the government since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.

This means all Chinese who desired to go home and whose whereabouts were known by the foreign ministry have been evacuated from the North African nation, said Song.

Chartered airplanes and ocean liners, buses, and even navy and air forces of China were sent to Libya to evacuate the stranded Chinese, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Chen Zhonglin, a NPC deputy and the dean of Chongqing University's school of law, said the cost of the action would be huge.

"However, this showed the government highly values the interests of the people and I totally support such an action," said Chen.

Almost all of 935 Chinese workers at the Libya project of Huafeng Construction Corporation, a private firm in east China's Ningbo City, were among those who have been back home safely after they were assaulted by thousands of armed robbers and forced to flee the construction site in east Libya.

"They had suffered scare, the loss of shelter, and food and water scarcity for almost a week since the attack on Feb. 19," said Zheng Huiming, general manager of the Libya branch of the 6,000-people Huafeng, which grows from a small firm in the early 1980s.

"The company has benefited enormously from a long-term stability and economic boom at home. However this time we suffered a huge loss worth at least 1.5 billion yuan (227 million U.S. dollars) in Libya as the site was burnt and all equipment and properties were either damaged or looted," Zheng said.

"The unrest also affected the life of local community and economy," he said.

Guo Xiangdong, chairman of Chongqing First Construction Group Co. Ltd. and a NPC deputy, said he had been very concerned about the unstable situation in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya recently.

"This is the least thing I want to see because I began to worry about our company's overseas projects," he said. The company has invested projects in Malaysia, Angola and Nigeria.

"As an overseas contractor, we always hope the country where we make investment will have a lasting peace and stability. The unrest in one country could also affect others," Guo said.

Li Rucheng, another NPC deputy and chairman of Youngor Group, a private textile and clothing enterprise in Ningbo, said he did not believe what happened in Libya would prevent Chinese enterprises from investing overseas.

However, both government and enterprises should pay more attention to risk assessment on overseas projects and make preventive and response plans correspondingly.

Unlike some Chinese enterprises, Youngor employs mainly local people at its plants in Vietnam and the Philippines, which, Li said, has helped Youngor have a safer business environment.

"Our experience is as an overseas investor, you must provide job opportunities to locals and learn to live with local businesses," he said.

"Also, the success of the evacuation showed that only with a stronger and more prosperous motherland, can we Chinese both at home and abroad benefit more," he said.

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