CHINA Chinese in Iran, Iraq ready for evacuation if tensions escalate

CHINA

Chinese in Iran, Iraq ready for evacuation if tensions escalate

Global Times

02:58, January 10, 2020

baghdad.jpg

Protesters set fire to a guard room outside the US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 31, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese people in Iran and Iraq have prepared emergency evacuation plans amid rising tensions in the Middle East, but most are still staying and observing the situation, the Global Times learnt from local Chinese on Wednesday. 

The Chinese Embassy in Iran issued a warning to all Chinese in Iran to enhance vigilance and pay attention to security precautions on its official website on Wednesday, following Iranian strikes on Iraqi bases hosting US troops on Wednesday morning in retaliation for the US assassination of General Qassem Suleimani. 

"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens overseas. The foreign ministry and diplomatic missions in relevant countries will continue to follow closely the local situation and decide whether to issue security alerts at the appropriate level according to needs and specific circumstances," Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday.

A businessman in Tehran surnamed Wang told the Global Times that he and his Chinese friends are concerned about the current tensions in the Middle East, and that he would consider returning to China to take a break for the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival. 

Wang told the Global Times that he has planned more than one evacuation scenario if the conflict escalates, and he said that Chinese state-owned companies are doing the same. But they remain hopeful that the political situation in Iran can be stabilized. 

Most would find it hard to leave immediately as they don't want to give up the businesses they have been running in Iran for years, he said.

"We believe that the Chinese embassy would order a quick evacuation in the first place, so we should not be too worried," a female restaurant manager in Tehran told the Global Times.

He Minghong, manager of a hostel based in Tehran, told the Global Times that life for Chinese citizens in Tehran hasn't changed much yet. He remains optimistic as he believes that Iranians are friendly to Chinese despite their anger toward the US. He has been operating the hostel for eight years and has been living in Tehran since 2008. 

"If the Chinese Embassy in Iran arranges an evacuation for Chinese citizens, local Chinese companies and organizations will report the number of Chinese citizens and help with the evacuation," He told the Global Times. 

"I don't think a war between Iran and the US will happen, because Iran has a significant strategic location. I think the two countries are just threatening each other," he told the Global Times.

Other Chinese people in Iraq reached by the Global Times also seemed unperturbed. 

"So far, the process is normal," Zhang Chong, an engineer at a construction site for a China-built power plant told the Global Times.

The power plant is approximately 60 kilometers away from one of the bases in Iraq fired upon by Iran. The construction site has more than 1,000 workers and is stable and in normal working order.

Jiang Yushan, an engineer with the China Machinery Engineering Corporation based in southern Iraq told the Global Times that the Chinese Embassy in Iraq has sent notifications to their phones about the latest situation and alerted them to stay in safe areas. 

So far, Chinese enterprises are working normally, although some Western companies have been leaving Iraq, Jiang said.

"I have faith in my country, and I believe our country provides a solid backup for us," Jiang told the Global Times.

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