China to evacuate citizens abroad over racial abuse linked to coronavirus
China will fly back thousands of its citizens belonging to the coronavirus-hit Hubei province who are currently stranded abroad amid reports that some of them were being targeted and facing racial abuse because of the outbreak, the government said on Friday.
The decision was also made as several international airlines had cancelled flights to China, and especially Hubei, effectively leaving a large number of Chinese tourists stranded in foreign countries. The decision to bring them back to Hubei on chartered aircraft comes as several countries, including India, are either evacuating or preparing to evacuate their nationals from the central Chinese province.Many countries have raised domestic alert levels and advised citizens not to travel to China.
The Chinese government is hiring a number of chartered aircraft to bring the citizens back to Hubei, and its capital, Wuhan, because of “practical difficulties” they are facing in other countries, the government said.
“In view of the practical difficulties that Chinese citizens from Hubei, especially Wuhan, have faced overseas, the Chinese government has decided to send charter flights to take them directly back to Wuhan as soon as possible,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said in a statement.
The novel coronavirus originated from the provincial capital, Wuhan before spreading to at least 18 countries until late Friday, and convincing the WHO to declare it an international health emergency.
There have been reports about Chinese nationals – even those perceived to be Chinese – being targeted in countries they were visiting as tourists.
The civil aviation administration of China (CAAC) has so far approved several airlines’ applications for operating chartered flights to bring back residents of Wuhan, Hubei province, who remained abroad due to the city’s lockdown amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, state controlled media reported.
This step became necessary after a number of international airlines temporarily cancelled their flights to and from Wuhan, the centre of the pneumonia outbreak.
“With a large number of tourists who had left the country prior to the cancelation still remaining abroad, the administration approved charter flight service of server carriers to help the tourists return home as soon as possible,” the state media report said.
The government has made it mandatory that the airline companies “…shall not refuse any passenger who has passed a health test from boarding the plane and shall keep a record of the crew member and passenger information”.
After the government announced its decision to bring back Wuhan and Hubei citizens back, the topic has been trending on social media with several people questioning if it was a good idea to bring those who were not infected.