With the second incidence of Chinese workers being abducted in South Africa in the first month of 2012, the safety of overseas workers has attracted widespread attention in China.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates, more than 75 million people went abroad in 2011, 15 million more than in 2010.
Last year was also an eventful year as turmoil and clashes took place in many countries, especially western Asia and northern Africa. Altogether 48,000 Chinese people were evacuated from Egypt, Libya and Japan last year, five times the total number in the past three decades.
As China’s international influence grows, some anti-government militants are taking Chinese hostages to exert pressure on the authorities, which is a significant cause of the frequent kidnapping cases, said He Wenping, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
As more Chinese enterprises enter Africa, Chinese workers will face more risks there, she said.
“More efforts should be made by the government and enterprises to protect overseas Chinese,” said Song Huarong, a guest professor at China Foreign Affairs University.
The government should increase investment in evacuation resources such as aircraft, boats and other vehicles, Song said.
Overseas enterprises should also map out emergency mechanisms and contingency plans and forge a complete security system, he said. For example, foreign projects and institutes should go through risk assessments, organize emergency drills among workers and seek assistance from insurance companies and international organizations.