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Large-scale Evacuation of Chinese from Solomon Islands
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In the region of 310 overseas Chinese, including 21 from Hong Kong, arrived in Guangzhou from the Solomon Islands on a chartered flight on Tuesday morning. This is the largest such evacuation in almost 20 years.

During the recent unrest in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, dozens of homes and shops in the city's Chinatown were looted and set on fire. Hundreds of local Chinese residents were forced to flee. 

The Chinese government arranged four chartered flights in the past 48 hours evacuating 312 overseas Chinese from the riot-torn South Pacific state to Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Zhao Yanbo, political counselor of Chinese Embassy in PNG, said there'd been around 300 Chinese stranded on the islands and they'd been flown out based on their own willingness to leave. 

Twenty-two residents with Hong Kong identity cards along with their families -- 41 people in total -- have been evacuated from the Islands, said Lee Siu-Kwong, secretary for Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. They are all safe and being cared for at the Chinese Embassy.

The government attaches great importance to the security and rights of the overseas Chinese. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have instructed the Foreign Ministry and relative departments to take all measures to ensure the safety of the Chinese people who've made their homes in Solomon Islands.

Since China and the Solomon Islands don't have diplomatic relations the Chinese foreign ministry made urgent contact with the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, requesting assistance for Chinese citizens where necessary.

Two diplomats from the Chinese Embassy in PNG distributed medicines to the Chinese community. The Red Cross and Red Crescent branches on the islands provided necessities at the request of the Chinese government. Australia and New Zealand helped evacuate people.

With help from the Chinese Embassy in PNG and their government the Chinese evacuees were taken through Customs and were housed in four hotels in PNG capital of Port Moresby. 

The 15 overseas Chinese, who arrived in Guangzhou of south China's Guangdong Province and Shanghai Municipality on Sunday, were warmly welcomed by relatives and officials. The local governments will help them with their problems such as losing their identity papers and ensuring children continue to be educated.

A coup d'etat took place in the Solomon Islands in June , 2000 and the Chinese government  withdrew 116 overseas Chinese at that time.


(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2006)

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