CHINA / National

Solomon Islands urged to safeguard Chinese nationals
Updated: 2006-04-21 10:27

China on Thursday demanded that the Solomon Islands' government protect Chinese citizens and their property amid violence following the election of a new prime minister in the South Pacific nation.

Rioters and looters this week laid waste to most of the capital Honiara's Chinatown _ its retail district.

Shop owners in Chinatown have been evacuated and families left their homes earlier this week to avoid looters, according to media reports. Some minor injuries were reported.

"We require the Solomon Islands' government to take effective measures immediately to concretely protect the property and personal safety of local Chinese," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

Qin said communications with the Solomon Islands over the situation have taken place through "relevant channels." He did not elaborate.

The riots began outside Parliament House after the April 5 parliamentary elections, but swiftly moved to Chinatown.

Qin said China has made an "urgent request" to the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea to provide assistance to Chinese citizens.

Beijing has also asked the Red Cross Society to provide daily necessities, he said.

Chinese citizens have also been warned against traveling to the Solomon Islands until the current situation is resolved, Qin said.