The Foreign Ministry will soon expand its consular services to better protect the interests of Chinese living or traveling abroad, a senior official said in Beijing on Tuesday.
"There are 34 million Chinese going abroad every year, and the figure is increasing at a double-digit rate," said Wei Wei, director of the department of consular affairs of the Foreign Ministry.
"The number of cases in which Chinese citizens get in trouble abroad has exceeded 30,000 a year," he noted.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the number of overseas Chinese workers is about 675,000, and the figure for Chinese companies abroad is more than 10,000.
Given the large number, there have been some tragic or unpleasant incidents.
Last month, two Chinese employees were arrested in Iran for mistakenly "taking pictures of sensitive facilities" because of lack of familiarity with the local situation.
On July 8, three Chinese nationals were killed in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar.
Eleven days later, a suicide bomber attacked a group of Chinese engineers in Baluchistan, southwest Pakistan.
The new consular protection center is upgraded from the 10-plus staff of the division of consular protection under Wei's department.
The center, which now has a staff of 20, will be enlarged gradually, said Ma Cuihong, deputy head of the center.
Also yesterday, the department issued a revised version of a brochure on consular protection and assistance.
"It comprises five parts, including special warnings, the services that consular officials can and cannot offer, as well as answers to frequently asked questions," said Wei, who handed the guidebooks to passengers and answered their questions at Beijing Capital International Airport.
Compared with the two previous versions issued in 2000 and 2003, the 2007 brochure is more practical and detailed, with additional contact information of relevant governmental institutions, especially Chinese embassies and consulates, said Wei.
The first batch of 50,000 copies will be mainly distributed at Beijing airport, and also at Shanghai and Guangzhou airports.
"We will ask our embassies and consulates to distribute the brochures abroad. Visitors can also download the content at www.fmprc.gov.cn," added Wei.
(China Daily August 22, 2007)