China - Noncombatant Evacuation Operations NEO
A Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) is the ordered (mandatory) or authorized (voluntary) departure of civilian noncombatants and nonessential military personnel from danger in an overseas country to a designated safe haven. Overseas evacuations could occur under a variety of circumstances, including civil unrest, military uprisings, environmental concerns, and natural disasters.
China has launched a series of massive overseas evacuations for its nationals from countries including Libya, Kyrgyzstan and Solomon over the past few years. By evacuating its citizens from conflict regions, the Chinese government has shown its people and the world its determination to ensure the safety of its citizens, as well as its principle that diplomacy should serve the people. There are many ways to evacuate citizens, such as civil aviation services or passenger ships, but sending military planes or ships is the safest. The Chinese navy is playing a growing role in serving the nation. In February 2011, the frigate Xuzhou escorted ships evacuating Chinese nationals from war-torn Libya. This was the first time that the Chinese navy went abroad to help evacuate Chinese citizens.
Beijing's leadership is trying to say something surprisingly simple: "You are safe, because China is strong." Military parade's goose-stepping soldiers and unprecedented displays of military hardware undoubtedly look like muscle-flexing triumphalism to many Western observers. Yet the regime's underlying mood is not aggression; it's insecurity. One of Beijing's biggest and growing concerns is how to adequately protect the interests and assets of Chinese abroad. Beijing's mushrooming role as a global economic player means that more and more Chinese citizens are finding themselves held hostage, caught in the crossfire of conflict zones, or targeted by anti-Chinese unrest in countries where Beijing's mercantilist policies have bred local resentment.
Chinese engineers have been kidnapped in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Yemen. And, in late May 2009, anti-Chinese riots involving tens of thousands of people in Papua New Guinea left four Chinese dead and many Chinese-owned stores looted. The violence was triggered by a brawl between Chinese and Papua New Guinean workers at a nickel refinery being built by China's state-run Metallurgical Construction Corp. Such incidents are likely to intensify as Beijing's relentless hunt for energy and other natural resources deepens its economic involvement in developing countries especially some African nations where Beijing is developing a rep as a neo-colonial power.
The success of the homegrown blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2 was hard to ignore. As the highest-grossing film in Chinese cinematic history at 5.68 billion yuan, it accounted for 10 percent of the total takings of 2017 and brought in nearly 70 percent more than The Mermaid, the second biggest movie of all time at the Chinese box office, which generated 3.39 billion yuan in 2016. A showcase for actor-director Wu Jing's death-defying stunts, the story follows a former Chinese special forces veteran's heroic efforts to evacuate Chinese citizens stuck in an African war zone. Most Chinese critics regarded the movie as having reinvented the genre of modern military films by setting the model for a commendable blend of mainstream values and commercial success.
Air China, a publicly traded company listed both in Hong Kong and London, has been actively fulfilling responsibilities as a corporate citizen, carrying out flight missions to difficult and dangerous places in situations of urgent need. During floods in Sri Lanka, the earthquake in Japan and the evacuations from Libya and Egypt, Air China had taken the interests of the whole into account, acting promptly and carrying out flight missions in an outstanding manner. Air China has long been enthusiastic in promoting undertakings for the public welfare, such as supporting educational development, helping underprivileged groups, carrying out volunteer activities and promoting the harmonious development of enterprises and the society.
CHICIT NEOs are |
becoming more frequent
In April 2006, the demonstrations in East Timor's capital Dili turned violent. Violence erupted in East Timor in late April 2006 after the East Timorese government decided to sack almost half of the country's soldiers who had protested against poor conditions and staged a strike. China sent a chartered plane to evacuate Chinese nationals in riot-torn East Timor. Some 200 citizens had sought shelter at the embassy. About 500 Chinese lived in the country, among whom 246 were moved back to China by two chartered planes.
In July 2006, Israel launched the massive assault on Lebanon. China altogether evacuated 170 citizens, including seven Hong Kong compatriots through the cooperation of the foreign ministry and Chinese embassies to Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Israel. The military clash between Lebanon and Israel breaking out on 12 July 2006 led to civilian casualties.
The Chinese government has been highly concerned about the safety of Chinese citizens in Lebanon. The Chinese Foreign Ministry launched the emergency response mechanism immediately and has been closely following the development of local situation. It issued two advisories warning Chinese citizens against traveling to Lebanon on its website and instructed the Chinese embassy in Lebanon to take all the necessary measures and develop the emergency response plans to help and evacuate Chinese citizens in case of emergency. Since July 14 some countries have started evacuating their citizens from Lebanon as the conflict continued escalating, and the Chinese embassy in Lebanon also launched the evacuation of Chinese citizens and organizations.
In November 2006, riots triggered by a disputed parliamentary reform broke out in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa. About 30 Chinese-run stores were reportedly looted or burnt. More than 300 Chinese went to the Chinese Embassy and demanded repatriation. China dispatched a chartered aircraft to take children, women and the elderly and ill back to China via Fiji.
In January 2008, heavy fighting broke out near the Chadian capital between government soldiers and an allied rebel force. With the help of the Chinese Embassy in Chad, 212 Chinese compatriots, including two from Taiwan, were evacuated to neighboring Cameroon on Feb. 2. In November 2008, up to 3,000 Chinese tourists were stranded in Thailand's capital Bangkok due to anti-government protestors' siege of two Bangkok airports. Chinese aviation authorities arranged a total of 12 flights from the Chinese mainland to fetch the trapped Chinese tourists. On Dec. 3, all stranded Chinese citizens returned from Thailand.
In January 2009, a 7.3-magnitude quake hit Haiti. A group of 48 stranded Chinese nationals were sent backed to Beijing along with the Chinese rescue team.
In June 2010, a total of 1,299 Chinese nationals were airlifted from riot-hit Kyrgyzstan back to China's Urumqi.
The situation in Libya was turbulent in 2011, and there was vandalism, looting and arson, with Chinese firms attacked and Chinese nationals injured. the Chinese government rented large cruise liners, cargo ships and fishing boats to bring back its overseas workers under the protection of a naval vessel. Meanwhile, planes and buses were also used to transport evacuees. China as well helped evacuate 2,100 people of 12 countries from Libya. The move was noted as the largest evacuation of overseas Chinese nationals since 1949.
In order to protect foreigners in China, China mobilized 182 Chinese civil aviation charter planes, 5 freighters, 4 Il-76 transport aircraft, leased more than 20 foreign cruise ships, and safely brought 35,860 Chinese citizens home from Libya. This evacuation of overseas Chinese can be called the largest national operation of the Chinese government. From late February to early March, in the evacuation project, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines flew 8,754, 6,722, and 6,674 Chinese citizens back to China respectively from Libya, Tunis, Greece, Egypt, UAE and other regions.
By 0200 GMT 28 February 2011, some 29,000 Chinese nationals had been pulled out of Libya, among whom about 2,500 had returned to China, and some 23,000 and 3,400 were respectively taking shelter at and heading for other countries, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Chinese aviation authorities said that in the coming days, they would greatly increase the number of chartered flights to Greece, Malta and Tunisia in order to airlift the Chinese evacuees back home as soon as possible. By 27 February 2020, over 10,000 Chinese nationals had been ferried from the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi to the Greek island of Crete by three Greek vessels chartered by the Chinese embassy in Athens. More were expected in the coming days. In Tunisia, which borders Libya and has become the destination of flocks of fleeing foreigners, 11,000 Chinese evacuees were staying on the island of Djerba. All of them were well accommodated by the Chinese embassy in Tunisia. China was only one of the countries trying to evacuate their nationals from Libya. Some 51,000 foreigners had left the country during the past week.
During the Libya evacuation, Air China dispatched 28 aircraft and evacuated 8,754 Chinese citizens. As the only Chinese airline to have evacuated Chinese citizens directly from Libya, Air China put in the largest carrying capacity, evacuated the largest number of national citizens and flew to the largest number of destinations among airlines involved in evacuation operations, and, as such, received the Group Award for Outstanding Contributions in Emergency Evacuation from the CAAC.
In February 2011, the situation in Egypt was tense. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in Egypt adopted various emergency measures to provide Chinese citizens with consular protection and assistance. From January 31 to February 3, the Chinese government coordinated to dispatch 8 planes successively to retrieve more than 1,800 Chinese citizens including about 360 compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
The evacuation of Chinese citizens from areas in Japan worst hit by the quake, tsunami and subsequent damage to nuclear reactors, was organized 15 March 2011 by the Chinese embassy in Tokyo. The evacuation plan was announced as China's nuclear safety agency said on Tuesday it was "closely monitoring" developments in Japan. The embassy said it was organizing the evacuation "owing to the seriousness and uncertainty surrounding the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant". The embassy was preparing to send buses to evacuate Chinese citizens from the cities of Fukushima, Miyagi and Ibaraki. It said they would be transported to airports to fly back to China.
China's coast guard said it had a cutter on standby to help with Japan's relief operations. If requested by Japan, the mission would mark the Chinese coast guard's first-ever participation in an international relief effort.
In May 2014, China pulled back its nationals affected by the violence in Vietnam. Some 400 factories were damaged and another 1,100 others were forced to shut down during looting and arson against foreign companies. Apart from those from the Chinese mainland, hundreds of Taiwan companies were also affected, along with South Korean, Japanese and Singaporean factories.
Thousands of Chinese nationals crossed Vietnamese borders to China or Cambodia after anti-China riots in central and southern Vietnam killed two Chinese and injured more than 100. About 11,000 Chinese nationals returned from May 13 to May 17 via Youyiguan, a land port on the Sino-Vietnamese border. In Dongxing, another border crossing in Guangxi, some 2,000 Chinese nationals returned.
Over 4,000 Chinese affected in the violence were heading home by sea. Four ships, each with an accommodation capacity of some 1,000 passengers, set sail back to China. Most passengers are workers for China Metallurgical Group Corporation (CMGC), a contractor for the construction of an iron and steel complex in Central Vietnam's Ha Tinh. Chartered planes brought more than 300 Chinese CMGC employees to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, including more than 100 injured. Most suffered from concussion and soft tissue injuries. In June 2014, more than 1,200 Chinese workers trapped in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra were safely evacuated to the capital Baghdad as sectarian violence grew in Iraq. There were some 10,000 Chinese workers in Iraq, most of them in safe areas, with only a small number in dangerous parts of the country. Most Chinese companies in Iraq were involved in construction, and they were especially vulnerable to the weakening security situation because their income mainly comes from payments from project owners.
Chinese nationals employed by a Chinese company in northern Iraq returned to their construction site after the first bus taking them to safety was stopped by government forces outside the capital, Baghdad. The over 1,000 workers are employees of China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC), which is building a power plant near Samarra - in northern Iraq - where there have been clashes between Iraqi government forces and militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The construction workers were headed to Baghdad in a convoy of buses on June 20. Unlike CMEC, most of the companies are located in the relatively safe southern part of the country, away from the fighting, and the Foreign Ministry hoped that a mass evacuation will not be necessary.
In early 2015, the outbreak of Yemen's civil war led to a sharp deterioration in domestic security. At that time, more than 10 countries including the United States, Britain, France and Germany closed their embassies and required their citizens to evacuate Yemen by themselves. However, China has sent a Chinese navy frigate and used its armed forces to prepare to take Chinese citizens home safely from Yemen, where artillery fires were flying.
As the situation in Yemen deteriorated, the Chinese government announced it would evacuate Chinese citizens in the region. After days of preparation and hard work, 571 citizens assembled at two ports in Yemen, where they embarked on two military ships to leave the country. The evacuation was rather tough because the Chinese citizens lived in different parts of Yemen, with bad, even dangerous, roads linking them to each other.
The evacuation fleet - the Linyi and another frigate, the Weifang, and the Weishanhu, a supply ship - was stationed near Yemeni waters before the airstrikes began. The ships had been carrying out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to protect Chinese and foreign vessels from pirate attacks. The PLA navy ordered the ships to prepare for an evacuation mission, and on the night of March 26 it directed them toward the ports of Hodeidah and Aden, navy spokesman Liang Yang said on March 30. Liang said the mission to evacuate Chinese citizens followed "the orders of President Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission".
At noon on March 29, the Linyi picked up 124 people - 122 Chinese and two foreign experts hired by Chinese enterprises - from Aden and arrived in Djibouti eight hours later. The Weifang and the Weishanhu evacuated 449 Chinese nationals and six foreign employees of Chinese enterprises from Hodeidah before sailing to Djibouti. The Chinese military has provided swift humanitarian assistance when it is needed. During its operation to evacuate Chinese citizens from Yemen, the Chinese Navy helped evacuate 279 people from 15 countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Germany, Japan, and Singapore.
In order to keep the compatriots away from the war at an early moment, the formation took the initiative to communicate and coordinate with the port area, and it only took over an hour to get all the personnel on the warship. The horse does not stop. On the night of April 2, the Linyi was ordered to help the yemeni port of Hodeida to evacuate Chinese and foreign citizens. At this point, there was intense fighting in Hodeida. In order to enable the personnel to board the ship quickly, the officers and men opened six security channels at the dock to ensure that the evacuees boarded the ship within an hour.
During boarding, smoke was suddenly thrown up 4 kilometers ahead of the bow of Linyi, and a stray bullet hit a tower crane just 20 meters from the berth. Guns sounded, but Linyi ship officers and men in the face of danger remained calm, with the organization of rapid evacuation. After entering Yemen waters, within 9 days Linyi escorted 163 Chinese compatriots and 279 citizens from 13 countries to Djibouti port safely and successfully completed the mission of evacuation of Chinese nationals in Yemen.
This was the first time for China to send warships directly to foreign ports to evacuate Chinese citizens. It was also the first time for Chinese warships to evacuate foreign citizens. It fully demonstrated the peaceful mission of the Chinese navy and the great power undertaking, which had won high praise from the international community.
In April 2015, a major earthquake occurred in Nepal. After the earthquake, Chinese tourists, personnel from Chinese enterprises and institutions based in Nepal, and thousands of Chinese citizens were trapped at the Kathmandu International Airport in Nepal. China immediately dispatched dozens of planes to bring the Chinese citizens stranded at the airport home safely. This time, people in all countries in the world are still in fear of being unable to leave, and China is the first to evacuate.
In 2016, an earthquake occurred on the South Island of New Zealand, and the coastal town of Keikoku, which was close to the epicenter, instantly became a "lone city". More than 1,000 tourists from all over the world were trapped, including 125 Chinese tourists. After receiving the news, the Chinese Consulate immediately initiated the evacuation plan, rented all available helicopters, and safely evacuated the Chinese tourists one by one and placed them in other safe cities. Chinese tourists holding Chinese passports left the "lone city" for the first time under the envy and helpless eyes of people all over the world.
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