Thursday, 10 March 2011

Mass Evacuation with Chinese Characteristics

China is breathing a sigh of relief now that it has gotten over 35,000 of its citizens out of Libya.

Excuse me -- how many?

It's 35,860 to be exact.

Of all the countries with expatriates working in Libya, China had the most and had to undertake the largest evacuation in the history of the Chinese Communist Party.

This meant a major test of China's logistics and transport, which included 91 domestic chartered flights, 12 flights by military airplanes, five cargo ferries, one escort ship, 35 rented foreign chartered flights, 11 voyages by foreign passenger liners, and about 100 bus runs.

All these Chinese were working on Chinese projects or businesses in Libya, 75 of which were companies, and 50 that were projects. There were also at least 27 Chinese construction sites or camps that were robbed or attacked before the people were evacuated.

Many of them were probably in construction, as China prefers using its own people and not local people on projects from building roads to buildings. Part of it is communication and work ethic, but mostly it's because of trust and giving employment to Chinese would probably lead to subsidies for the employers.

The crisis in Libya and the subsequent evacuation has probably made the Chinese government and companies think twice about investing in despotic countries. Having to evacuate so many people must have caused them a great scare and not to mention billions of dollars down the drain due to sites being attacked and damaged.

So while the Chinese government may prefer cozying up to these despotic states because it's so much easier doing business, the safety and welfare of its citizens should be paramount. While you may want to bring in your own workers, how can you ensure they will be protected when the leader you dealt with is going down in flames?

In the meantime the people are just grateful to the Chinese government for getting them out of what is clearly a dangerous situation. Dai Huidong, a construction worker, was so worried about what might happen to him that he wrote a will.

"I could not sleep. I thought I was about to die," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying. "In the middle of the night, I got up and wrote a few lines on paper, hoping my family would learn what happened to me eventually."

So when they touched down at Beijing Capital International Airport, he had tears in his eyes.

Another worker, Xiong Xueyin, 27, was also scared, as this was his first job overseas.

"I was afraid that I might die before I could bring the money back. It is not worth it," he said. "It is a relief that we are all safely back."

Will they go back to Libya once the fighting stops and some semblance of stability emerges?

They will probably think twice and the Chinese government will have to think of plan B.

1 comment:

  1. pity the canadian airplanes which mad two empty runs to tripoli without any evacuees. so are the remaining canadians in libya.