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FM Sets up New Int'l Security Arm

The Foreign Ministry has set up a new department to deal with security issues concerning foreign affairs.

The move was described by a Chinese security expert as an important step to coordinate the work in this field against the background of globalization.

The department is expected to deal with such issues as anti-terrorism and international organized crime, said Li Wei, an expert on terrorism with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Foreign Ministry officials confirmed the establishment of the new department, but said detailed information will be released later.

As China moves towards a "going-out" policy, or encouraging enterprises to seek business opportunities abroad, many more Chinese people are working in foreign countries. This has prodded the government to pay more attention to guaranteeing the safety of its citizens abroad, said Li.

A series of terrorist attacks on Chinese workers in recent months have proved the necessity of creating an organization to provide assistance and ensure effective international cooperation, said Li.

A group of 11 Chinese workers were gunned down in Afghanistan on June 10.

"Personally, I believe that the Afghan incident sped up the decision to establish this new department," said Li.

In the past, officials from different departments dealt with such incidents. The establishment of the new agency is expected to speed responses.

"However, we cannot expect the new department to solve all problems, and it still needs time to better coordinate its functions with other government departments."

China has already worked effectively with other countries and international organizations on bilateral and multilateral security.

In the past, the Foreign Ministry put its emphasis on political and diplomatic affairs. But, "In the future, I believe security issues will also be included as one of the ministry's priorities," said Li.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also renamed the Department of West European Affairs as the Department of European Affairs.

Since the European Union was expanded last month and joined by some East European countries, the ministry decided an organizational adjustment was necessary.

(China Daily June 22, 2004)

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