China considers evauation of nationals from Haiti

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China said on Monday that it is considering the possible evacuation of its nationals from Haiti, which was struck by a devastating earthquake on Tuesday.

If local conditions were too difficult or if it was too difficult to find a third country to shelter those Chinese nationals in Haiti, the Chinese government would withdraw them, said Wei Wei, director of Foreign Ministry's Consular Department, at a news briefing.

Apart from Chinese who were in Haiti in a governmental capacity or on business, Wei said, as far as he knew, about 10 other people from the mainland, mainly staffers with Chinese companies or local Chinese restaurants, were in Haiti.

Chinese citizens were safely placed in areas such as local Chinese restaurants, and their short-term accommodation could be ensured, he said.

Last Friday, a Chinese chartered flight took 11 staff of ZTE, a Chinese communications technology company, from Haiti to the neighboring Dominica.

Wei said about 30 Taiwanese were in Haiti. Althout he had no specific information about them, the Chinese Government would provide help to those who requested it.

One Taiwan compatriot had asked the Chinese mainland for help, he said, giving no further details.

As far as the Foreign Ministry knew, there were less than 20 Chinese illegal immigrants in Haiti, said Wen, adding their fundamental rights as Chinese citizens would be protected if they asked for help.

The consular protection also covered Chinese illegal immigrants in Haiti, he said.

Shortly after the Haitian quake, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao instructed government departments to prepare assistance.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sent a message of condolences to Haitian counterpart Alrich Nicolas immediately after the quake. On Wednesday, China sent a 50-member search and rescue team to Haiti and the Red Cross Society of China decided to donate 1 million U.S. dollars in emergency aid.

On Friday, China decided to send emergency humanitarian aid worth 30 million yuan (4.41 million U.S. dollars) to the Caribbean country.

The hotlines launched by the Ministry's Consular Affairs Department had run around-the-clock for 115 hours as of 10 a.m. Beijing time Monday, handling with more than 1,000 calls asking for information or offering assistance.

China hoped to extend its help to relief and reconstruction work, said Shen Zhiliang, deputy head of the Ministry's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs.

According to the Ministry, the Chinese Government provided assistance to Haiti in 2004 when it was rocked by domestic violences and floods. The Red Cross Society of China gave donations after Haiti was hit by hurricanes in 2008.

About 230 Chinese were in Haiti when the quake occurred Tuesday and most of them are safe. The quake claimed lives of eight Chinese police officers, whose bodies were expected to be brought home on Monday evening on a chartered flight.

A Foreign Ministry official said at the news briefing that China has made many contributions to the UN peacekeeping mission around the world, and would consider sending more peacekeepers to Haiti if needed.

"China will consider (sending more peace-keepers) according to decisions made by the UN Security Council and UN requests," said Yang Tao, counsellor of the Ministry's Department of International Organizations and Conferences.

Yang said China had so far sent 14,000 peace-keepers on 24 UN missions, and about 2,100 Chinese peacekeepers are working in 10 mission areas.

China has no diplomatic ties with Haiti, but the two countries have established bureaus of commercial development for the convenience of trade, cultural and personnel exchanges.

Since October 2004, the Chinese government has dispatched eight peacekeeping and anti-riot police teams to Haiti at the request of the United Nations.

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