Embassy: Eight Chinese hostages freed in Iraq
The Eight Chinese hostages held by Iraqi insurgents have been released, the Chinese embassy in Iraq confirmed on Saturday.
China's embassies in Iraq and neighboring countries are trying to contact the eight released Chinese citizens, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
The Al-Arabiya television station reported on Saturday that the eight Chinese were freed and handed to the Committee of Muslim Scholars.
A videotape aired by Al-Arabiya said the Islamic Resistance Movement, Al-Numan Battalion, had decided to release the eight Chinese citizens as a goodwill gesture for the friendship between the two countries of Iraq and China.
"They were not harmed during the period they were held and also they weren't exchanged for any amount of money," an insurgent said in the tape.
The eight Chinese were abducted en route to Jordan by gunmen identifying themselves as the Islamic Resistance Movement, according to a video tape released by the group on Tuesday.
Earlier reports said that the kidnappers had asked the Chinese government to ban its nationals from entering Iraq.
The Chinese embassy on Wednesday contacted the Committee of Muslim Scholars, which helped in the release of seven Chinese hostages last April, in a bid to free the eight men.
The eight hostages, aged between 18 and 40, were identified as citizens from Pingtan County, east China's Fujian Province.
The Chinese embassy in Baghdad said the hostages are ordinary Chinese citizens who traveled to Iraq for job opportunities.
"After their contracts expired, they rented a car to leave Iraqfor home ahead of the Chinese Spring Festival, the most important festival for Chinese like Eid al-Adha (the feast of sacrifice) for Muslims," the embassy said in a statement. Enditem
China's efforts to secure the release
The Chinese government has been making every effort it can to secure the release of the eight Chinese workers.
China says it has already warned its citizens to stay out of Iraq after kidnappers holding eight Chinese men said they would spare their lives if Beijing issued a travel ban.
"What I want to stress is that the Chinese government has previously issued warnings on many occasions to its citizens, requesting them not to travel to Iraq," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in a statement issued late Friday.
The captors, who call themselves Movement of the Islamic Resistance Nuamaan Brigades, made their demands in a video showing the hostages, the Dubai-based Arab channel said.
The eight Chinese men were shown on Al-Arabiya, standing in front of rocks, looking scared and confused.
Chinese authorities in the eastern province of Fujian, where the captives came from, on Friday ordered a search to see how many other Chinese nationals were working in Iraq, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the hostage taking, the Beijing News said Saturday.
Those working in Iraq or the Middle East would be urged to return home immediately and people planning to leave for those places would be persuaded to stay, according to an urgent notice issued Friday by Fujian's Fuzhou city.
On Tuesday, the kidnappers in the latest case released footage to Al-Jazeera television of the eight laborers holding Chinese passports and claimed they were helping the US military build facilities in Iraq.
The group demanded Beijing "clarify" its position on Iraq within 48 hours or the hostages would be killed.
The government and employers of the eight men have denied any link to the United States.
The men, aged 18 to 40, were on their way home to spend Lunar New Year with their families, Chinese media said.
Their families have been ordered not to speak to reporters for fear their statements would not be in line with the Chinese government's -- which would complicate efforts to free the men, Beijing News said.
Beijing opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 but, like other nations,
its companies have chased lucrative reconstruction contracts in the
While meeting Vice Mayor of Shanghai Tang Dengjie, Shaways said that it has always been the stance of the Chinese government to show sympathy and support for the Iraqi people, and the Iraqi people, likewise, hold friendly feelings toward China and its people.
Iraq and China will have a splendid prospect in relationship, he said.
Shaways arrived Shanghai Saturday afternoon from Beijing to continue his five-day working visit to China at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong.
Shaways described his meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing as "fruitful" and his China's visit as "successful".
Shaways hoped China could join in the rebuilding of Iraq, that is also why he came to visit Shanghai, one of the globally-renowned economic and business centers.
He said he believes the Iraqi transitional government that will be elected in the near future will be conducive to the future friendly cooperation between China and Iraq.
Tang briefed the guest on Shanghai's economic and social development.
He said the Chinese people has all along cherished friendly feelings toward the Iraqi people and he hoped Iraq could resume peace at an early date to pursue development.