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January 19, 2010

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Chinese evacuation considered

CHINA said yesterday it is considering the possible evacuation of its nationals from Haiti in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake.

If local conditions were too difficult, or if a third country was unable to offer shelter, the Chinese government would withdraw the Chinese citizens, Wei Wei, director of the Foreign Ministry's Consular Department, said.

About 230 Chinese were in Haiti when the quake hit last on Tuesday and most of them are safe.

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

He said those Chinese seemed to be safe at the moment in locations such as restaurants.

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

Wei said about 30 Taiwan compatriots were in Haiti. Although he had no specific information about them, he said 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 fewer than 20 Chinese illegal immigrants in Haiti, said Wen, adding their rights as Chinese citizens would be protected if they asked for help.

Hotlines set up by the Ministry's Consular Affairs Department have handled more than 1,000 calls seeking information or offering assistance.


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