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China to scale up security for its tourists travelling abroad

world Updated: Mar 13, 2014 13:10 IST
Hindustan Times
missing Malaysian plane

Highlighting China's concerns overthe missing Malaysian plane amid suspicions that it could have fallen victim to a terror plot, Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said the country will scale up security of over 80 million Chinese tourists travelling abroad every year.

"Hundred and fifty four of the 239 people on board on the Malaysian plane are Chinese. Those people's families are burning with anxiety. Chinese government and people are all deeply concerned about their safety," Li said on Thursday.

"We are all eagerly awaiting the news of the plane, even the slightest piece of good news," he said minutes after China said its satellites picked up three floating objects between Malaysia and Vietnam which could belong to the Malaysian plane which went missing six days ago.

Without directly referring to Malaysia he said the Chinese government has asked relevant parties to enhance coordination, investigate the cause, locate the missing plane as quickly as possible and properly handle all related matters.

"As far as there is a glimmer of hope we will not stop searching for the plane," he said. Li also said the incident will not effect any policy changes permitting large number of Chinese tourists to travel abroad.

Over 80 million Chinese tourists visited abroad in 2012 spending over $102 billion, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

While Malaysian officials denied any hint of terrorism in the incident, concerns are rising about the safety of large number of Chinese visiting abroad.

"With respect to China's opening up policy there will be no change and China will continue to open itself to the outside world," Li said replying to a question whether the incident will impact outbound tourism.

"In this course the growing number of Chinese people will make overseas trips. That will play greater responsibility on the shoulders of Chinese government. It will fully perform its duties and enhance cooperation with other countries and regions to ensure safety of overseas nationals," he said.

With the speculation that the Malaysian plane could have been targeted because of large number Chinese passengers on board, Chinese officials are concerned over its impact, especially it came in the immediate backdrop of recent knife attacks on waiting passengers at Kunming railway station.

Thirty-three people were killed 143 others injured in the attack reportedly carried by the militants from Xinjiang belonging to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, (ETIM).

It was the second attack outside Xinjiang. Earlier the militants tried to attack Forbidden City here last year.