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FM sets up new branch to enhance security
By Guo Nei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-22 00:08

The Foreign Ministry has set up a new department to deal with security issues concerning foreign affairs.

The move was described by a Chinese security expert as an important step to better co-ordinate the work in this field against the background of globalization.

The department is expected to deal with such issues as anti-terrorism and international organized crimes, said Li Wei, an expert on terrorism study with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Xi Shouzhong, one of five construction workers injured in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan, phones his family members on Monday after arriving in Jinan of East China's Shandong Province. He arrived with three others aboard a Boeing 757 from Chinese Southern Airlines. [newsphoto]

Foreign Ministry officials confirmed the establishment of the new department, but said detailed information will be released later.

As China moves towards a "going-out" policy, or encouraging Chinese enterprises to seek business opportunities abroad, more and more Chinese people are working in foreign countries.

This has prodded the Chinese Government to pay more attention to guaranteeing the safety of Chinese citizens abroad, said Li.

A series of terrorist attacks on Chinese workers in recent months have proved the necessity of creating an organization to provide assistance and ensure effective international co-operation, said Li.

A group of 11 Chinese workers were gunned down while five others injured in Afghanistan on June 10.

"Personally, I believe that the Afghan incident speeded up the decision to establish this new department," said Li.

In the past, officials from different departments dealt with such incidents. The establishment of the new agency is expected to strengthen quick responses.

"However, we could not expect the new department to solve all problems, and it still needs time to better co-ordinate its functions with other government departments."

China has already worked effectively with other countries and international organizations on bilateral and multilateral security.

An Afghan police officer inspects the scene where Chinese railway workers were gunned down in their sleep by unknown attackers in Had Bakhshi of northern Afghanistan June 10, 2004. Eleven Chinese workers died and four were injured. It was the worst attack on foreigners since the fall of the Taliban regime. [AFP]
In the past, the Foreign Ministry put its emphasis on political and diplomatic affairs in its work.

"In the future, I believe security issues will also be included as one of the priorities of the ministry," said Li.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also renamed the Department of West European Affairs as the Department of European Affairs.

As the European Union was expanded last month and joined by some East European countries, the ministry has decided to make organizational adjustment to the work with European countries.

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