Consular protection center set up for overseas Chinese
Source: CCTV | 2007-08-24 12:06:00

BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Ministry inaugurated a consular protection center on Thursday to better protect the interests and legitimate rights of Chinese nationals living or traveling abroad.

The center, upgraded from a consular protection division under the ministry's consular department, is aimed at strengthening its coordinative abilities on the precaution and operation of consular cases.

It will also promote the legislation on consular protection, so to provide better consular services to overseas Chinese, according to Foreign Ministry.

"The consular protection service, which fully embodies the notion of 'putting people first', is closely related with the state image and governance capability," Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi addressed the inauguration ceremony.

He called on all the diplomats at Chinese embassies and consulates overseas to attach great importance to consular services, establishing and improving a consular protection system with Chinese characteristics.

The new consular protection center, expanded from the ten-minus staff to 14, will particularly strengthen the publicity of basic consular protection knowledge to the public, said Wei Wei, director of the consular department.

"Precaution is always at the first place," Wei said. Before the update, the consular division could not be engaged in publicity activities.

"Now the center can pay more attention to preventive measures, such as knowledge promotion, with the aid of media and the Internet," Wei added.

Recent years saw a soaring number of overseas Chinese with the country's rapid development.

Statistics from the Foreign Ministry show that Chinese citizens paid 34.52 million visits abroad in 2006, a double-digit increase over the previous year.

According to the statistics, about 675,000 Chinese currently work overseas, and more than 10,000 Chinese enterprises have set up businesses in foreign countries.

"The number of cases in which Chinese citizens get in trouble abroad has exceeded 30,000 a year," Wei said.

Diplomats in the consular division have handled some evacuation of Chinese nationals from East Timor, Lebanon and Tonga since its establishment on May 29 last year.

In the first of this year, they have helped rescue kidnapped Chinese workers in Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia and other countries.

The inauguration of the consular protection center came two days after the Foreign Ministry issued a revised version of a brochure on consular protection and assistance.

The guidebook, distributed free of charge to passengers at the Beijing Capital International Airport, comprises five parts, including special warnings, the services that consular officials can and can not offer, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

Compared with the two previous versions issued in 2000 and 2003,the 2007 brochure is more practical and detailed, with additional contact numbers of relevant governmental institutions, especially Chinese embassies and consulates.

The Chinese embassies and consulates will distribute the brochures abroad. Visitors can also download the content at www.fmprc.gov.cn, added Wei.

Editor:Chempark

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