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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Professors call for more protection of interests abroad

By  Li Lianxing (China Daily)

13:25, March 03, 2012

Priorities should be placed on the security of overseas Chinese and the country's economic interests, experts said.

Pang Zhongying, professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said the improvement of consular protection policies should also be discussed in the approaching two sessions to ensure the safety of the country's long-term foreign investments.

"The risks faced by all overseas Chinese are various and can't be solved by a single policy, thus its protection policy should be further consolidated and improved," Pang said.

He said people in some places believe the Chinese are rich and target them.

On Thursday morning in Cairo, for example, two Chinese workers at a local stone material factory were kidnapped by several unknown gunmen. They were released later the same day, the Chinese Embassy in Cairo confirmed.

"China's interests abroad are growing, as companies make purchases and invest abroad and tens of thousands of Chinese work abroad. How to protect China's business interests and the safety of Chinese workers has become a new question," said Zhu Zhiqun, professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University in the United States.

In February, the Foreign Ministry said China set up a mechanism involving its diplomatic and consular missions and companies operating overseas to provide consular protection to handle the increasing security risks faced by overseas nationals.

Pang said foreign policies should be adjusted to protect the increasing foreign investment from China, since it's still in a primary stage.

"China's foreign investment model differs from the West's, and that might trigger more problems when facing instability and insecurity," he said. "Withdrawal shouldn't be the only choice when danger happens."

The discussion would benefit not only the country's overseas economic interests, but would also improve the relationship between foreign policy and business interests.

He said China should not use military intervention to protect its foreign investment as some Western countries have done.

In 2010, more than 16,000 Chinese enterprises were operating in foreign countries.

The Foreign Ministry's department of consular affairs also called on overseas nationals and companies to strengthen their capabilities of self-protection and to avoid various kinds of security risks.

In the last five years, the Foreign Ministry and other departments handled more than 120,000 cases concerning consular protection.

Tan Yingzi contributed to this story.


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