Chinese nationals in Ukraine register for evacuation after call from FM

Students evacuated from the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy pose with Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Fan Xianrong (center) for a photo in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine

Some Chinese nationals who remain in Ukraine have signed up to be evacuated from the country, with most signing up for organized evacuations while others are preparing to leave Ukraine on their own, the Global Times learned on Sunday after China’s Foreign Ministry ordered Chinese citizens to leave Ukraine, citing the serious security situation.

The move, following the large-scale evacuation in March that saw about 6,000 Chinese nationals in Ukraine safely returned to their motherland, represents the Chinese government’s greatest effort to protect its citizens as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continued to escalate , noted experts.

At press time on Sunday, 161 people had registered on the form the embassy sent out for organized evacuation and another 27 people on the self-evacuation form, according to a count by the Global Times via registration on the embassy’s WeChat account .

In a statement released on Saturday, China’s Foreign Ministry said that given the serious security situation in Ukraine, it is calling on Chinese nationals still in the country to step up security and evacuate the country. The Chinese embassy will support the organization of evacuation for those in need, the statement said, urging them to register their personal information with the embassy as soon as possible.

Later on Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Ukraine said through its WeChat account that it would offer assistance and help coordinate relevant evacuation matters, such as processing emergency documents.

The official calls came as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continued to escalate following the attack on the Crimean bridge earlier this month, prompting a harsh response from Russia, including rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities.

“After the Crimean Bridge attack, civilian infrastructure became the target of military clashes, which clearly represents an escalation on the battlefield. Our evacuation this time is more of an early warning, with utmost efforts being made to avoid damage to our citizens’ property and lives,” Cui Heng, a research fellow at the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global on Sunday Times.

A small number of Chinese nationals have returned for business or school after the evacuation mission in March this year that expelled around 6,000 Chinese nationals from Ukraine. Those still in the country are mainly students, business people or company employees based in Ukraine.

This time, it is now easier and safer to organize the evacuation as communications have not been disrupted and flights are normal, observers said.

While hearing the sirens wail all night, Chinese nationals reached by the Global Times said they remain relatively calm after months of conflict and have learned to protect themselves amid escalating tensions.

Gio Guo, a Chinese national who lives in Kyiv with his Ukrainian wife and children, told the Global Times on Sunday that he and his family have no intention of leaving the country at the moment. “Things have remained calm and serene in the past few days, and we don’t feel particularly different from the days before the war,” he said.

However, uncertainties remain as the conflict continues to escalate and the US and its NATO allies are still fanning the fire, experts noted.

In the latest development, 11 people were killed and another 15 injured during gunnery training at a military training ground in Russia’s Belgorod region, TASS reported on Saturday, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to TASS, the attack was carried out by two citizens of “a CIS country” who “committed an act of terrorism,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Zhu Haoning contributed to this story.

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