China’s foreign ministry on Saturday issued an urgent call for any Chinese nationals still in Ukraine to exit immediately, kicking off speculation over what’s behind the unspecified appeal and scramble.
The notification is being widely seen as the most forceful evacuation order yet, and suggests that Beijing might be aware of Russian plans for possibly imminent bigger, sweeping airstrikes against Ukrainian cities, such as the widespread escalatory strikes conducted last Monday into Tuesday.
With the current grim security situation in #Ukraine, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese Embassy in Ukraine on Sat urge Chinese citizens in the country to enhance safety precautions and evacuate. The Embassy will assist in organizing the evacuation of people in need. pic.twitter.com/1jB1TwiKKI
— Zhang Meifang张美芳 (@CGMeifangZhang) October 15, 2022
The first big evacuation of Chinese citizens took place starting last March, in which some 6,000 Chinese nationals left the country amid the Russian invasion. But now, as state media Global Times writes, “Some Chinese nationals still in Ukraine have signed up for evacuation from the country, with most registering for organized evacuations, while others are preparing to leave Ukraine on their own, the Global Times learned on Sunday, after the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Chinese citizens to leave Ukraine, citing the grave security situation.”
The foreign ministry and embassy warned of the “grave security situation” and ordered an immediate departure, citing the need “to enhance safety precautions and evacuate.” The statement indicated that “the embassy will assist in organizing the evacuation of people in need.” Russian state sources also on Sunday began publicizing the new alert notification.
GT is reporting that an evacuation is now in progress:
As of press time on Sunday, 161 people had registered on the form the embassy sent out for organized evacuation, and another 27 people registered on the form for self-evacuation, according to a Global Times’ count of the registration on the embassy’s WeChat account.
It additionally comes at a moment of stepped-up cross-border attacks on the Russian city of Belgorod, which lies just north of the Ukrainian border opposite Kharkiv.
"Serious Security Situation" alert goes out to Chinese citizens in Ukraine. China warned citizens to leave previously due to the war, but this seems to be of a more urgent, but unspecified nature. https://t.co/fruQMgv6ng
— Good Trouble (@GoodTroublers) October 16, 2022
While it’s yet unknown precisely what triggered the heightened, urgent appeal for all remaining Chinese nationals to exit Ukraine, it’s possible the answer could come Monday or in the following days. Does this signal that greater Russian escalation on the horizon?