China will send a chartered plane to East Timor today to bring home its
nationals and people of Chinese origin in the riot-hit country, the Foreign
Ministry said yesterday.
government has been closely monitoring the situation in East Timor and is
concerned over the safety of the Chinese there, the ministry said in a press
release on its website late yesterday.
Frightened residents of Dili flee
a fresh outbreak of violence on Saturday. [AP]
By Saturday, around 200 people had sought refuge at the Chinese Embassy,
which provided them with accommodation, food and medicines, the release said.
Around 600 of the 1,400-strong Timorese army began the rebellion last month
after they were dismissed for protesting over what they said was discrimination
against soldiers from the west of the country. Most military leaders are said to
come from the east.
The violence escalated last week, killing at least 27 people since then.
Gangs allied to feuding police or army units continued to rampage through the
capital Dili yesterday, evading foreign peacekeeping troops and torching homes
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, about 500 Chinese people live in
East Timor, and around 200 have already left. No Chinese have been reported to
be killed or injured in the riots.
Australian troops, part of a 2,000-strong multinational deployment following
the East Timor Government's appeal for help, stepped up patrols in the capital
but still appeared to hold back from directly engaging the rampaging gangs.
They were backed by small patrols of Malaysian and New Zealand troops. The
commander of the Australian troops said soldiers were concentrating on disarming
factions of the military and gangs.
East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said on Saturday that it would
take time for the Australians to restore order.
Last Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced at a regular
news conference that East Timor President Xanana Gusmao had postponed his state
visit to China due to the domestic situation.
Gusmao was originally scheduled to visit China from today to June 3 at the
invitation of President Hu Jintao.
China understands the reason for the visit being postponed and hopes that
stability is restored at an early date, Liu said, adding that Gusmao is welcome
to visit at a time convenient for both countries.