|Foreign Ministry Holds Briefing for Chinese and Foreign Media|
On January 18, 2010, the Foreign Ministry held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media at which Director-General of the Department of Consular Affairs Wei Wei, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Shen Zhiliang and counselor of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences Yang Tao introduced the Foreign Ministry's efforts of consular protection and emergency rescue after Haiti earthquake. Deputy Director-General of the Information Department Ma Jisheng hosted the briefing which was attended by more than 50 journalists from over 30 Chinese and foreign media including Reuters, AFP, NHK, the Voice of America, Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao, TVB and MASTV.
It was first of all pointed out at the briefing that the Chinese leaders and people are deeply concerned about Haiti which was hit by the massive earthquake with Richter magnitude of 7.3. Immediately after the disaster China dispatched an international rescue team and offered RMB30 million of emergency material assistance to the country and announced US$1 million of emergency assistance in cash for the Haitian Red Cross. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called Haitian Foreign Minister Alrich Nicolas, expressing to him the condolence and grief of the Chinese people.
Wei said that the Department of Consular Affairs launched the emergency response mechanism shortly after the earthquake. The Centre for Consular Assistance and Protection opened two 24-hour hotlines for help advices on January 13 and issued notice reminding the Chinese citizens not to go to Haiti temporarily. As of 10:00 a.m. January 18, the hotlines have operated for 115 hours. The staffs of the Centre for Consular Assistance and Protection who were on duty shift have received nearly 1,000 calls, involving over 120 employees of Chinese companies and overseas Chinese in Haiti.
Getting in touch with the Chinese trade development office in Haiti through marine satellite telephone, the Department of Consular Affairs required the office to try its best to help the local Chinese, repeatedly verified the safety of Chinese citizens including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots through various channels and quickly confirmed the important information that no other Chinese citizens were killed or injured except that the four members of the Ministry of Public Security's peacekeeping working group in Haiti and four peacekeeping police officers were killed and several Taiwan compatriots were affected. In addition, the Department of Consular Affairs took concerted efforts with all parties concerned in ensuring the safe evacuation of 11 ZTE employees to Dominica on the evening of January 15 and worked closely with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Commerce in disaster relief and making arrangements for the follow-up work.
Shen said that Haiti's communication with the outside world was totally interrupted after the earthquake. The Foreign Ministry managed to contact the Chinese trade development office in Haiti through marine satellite telephone and the communication has been maintained smoothly since then. The Foreign Ministry cooperated with relevant Chinese departments in implementing rescues in Haiti efficiently. To ensure the timely arrival of Chinese international rescue team and charter flights with relief materials to Haiti, the Foreign Ministry and related Chinese embassies and consulates abroad actively assisted domestic airlines in making emergency applications to Russia, Canada, the US, Jamaica and Cuba for the overflight, landing and alternate licensing of charter flights. The Ministry instantly sent four comrades to join the rescue team in the same plane to implement relief tasks in Haiti. Representatives and staffs of the Chinese trade development office in Haiti braved the danger of aftershocks to reach out into the earthquake zones to get information about the disaster and coordinated with related Haitian authorities about the landing of charter flights.
Yang introduced China's dispatch of peacekeeping troops overseas and implementation of UN peacekeeping operations. He said that since 1989 China has sent 14,000 person times for 24 UN peacekeeping operations and more than 2,100 Chinese are on mission in 10 mission areas. China is a major troop-contributing country for UN peacekeeping missions and its number of troops tops the list among the Security Council's five permanent members. The Ministry of Public Security has sent 1,569 person-times of peacekeeping police for 7 UN peacekeeping operations since 1999. At the request of the UN, China dispatched the first peacekeeping police anti-riot squad to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in October 2004. China so far has sent 8 batches and altogether 1,000 person times of peacekeeping police anti-riot squads. China now has 125 peacekeeping police anti-riot squad members and 17 civilian police offices in the MINUSTAH. Over the past 6 years, the outstanding performance of Chinese peacekeeping police officers has received the recognition of the UN and the Haitian government and the welcome of the Haitian people.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sent a message of condolence to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the serious casualty of MINUSTAH after the earthquake and, upon learning the death of Chinese police officers, sent telegraph of condolences to their families. The Foreign Ministry will actively cooperate with the Ministry of Public Security and other related departments in carrying out disaster relief and dealing with the aftermath, communicate closely with the UN and support it to play an important role in the rescue and rebuilding process of Haiti.
The officials at the briefing also answered questions of journalists on the next step of China's rescue plan and whether China will continue to send rescue teams, consider dispatching volunteers and send more peacekeeping troops to Haiti.