Foreign Minister Wang Yi elaborated the country’s increasing efforts in consular protection on Tuesday as more and more Chinese people travel abroad, saying that the diplomatic and consular missions handle “one consular case every six minutes.”
“The interests of the people are paramount. Consular protection and service must go wherever our compatriots go,” he said, pledging China’s determination in consular protection despite enormous strain. Wang made the remarks at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of China's top legislature.
As an effort to protect Chinese traveling or working overseas from risks in foreign countries, China opened a global calling center in 2014. Through the 24-hour global hotline -- 12308, Beijing will be briefed about the suffering and demands of Chinese citizens abroad in a timely manner and deliver help when they are in need.
The hotline now covers over 200 Chinese embassies and consulates. An off-duty call-forwarding service was also provided by embassies in Japan and Malaysia, as well as the Consulate General in New York. The service will be provided around the globe when conditions permit.
Wang also told the press that the hotline received over 100,000 phone calls last year and the Foreign Ministry helped 166 missions overseas handle 15,000 consular cases, with the successful rescue of 55 Chinese abducted abroad. “We evacuated 613 Chinese from conflict-ridden Yemen and over 6,000 Chinese from quake-hit Nepal,” Wang added.
When the 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal last April, the families of the Chinese living and traveling in the country dialed the hotline for help since they lost contact due to interrupted transportation and communication.
The Ministry and diplomatic and consular missions handled over 80,000 consular cases in 2015, or 235 cases per day, one case every six minutes, the minister told the press.
The foreign minister also stressed the best approach to consular protection is prevention rather than remedy, further elaborating that they will enhance people’s security awareness, set up police-civilian cooperation centers and appoint local liaison officers for consular protection.
Wang also vowed to improve efficiency in protecting Chinese citizens overseas. China wants to move the first line of consular protection to foreign areas to shorten the time and make work more efficient, said Wang.