World / Middle East

Concern surrounds Chinese security forces in Iraq

( Updated: 2014-06-24 14:51

There are more than 15,000 Chinese living in Iraq, many working for energy companies such as PetroChina and Sinopec and they are under the care of Chinese ex-service special forces, according to the Global Times.

Most Chinese security forces officials are former senior non-commissioned officers, according to Zhang Dongfang, vice president of the China Bodyguards Association. He said the group has worked for Chinese energy companies for three years after retiring from military service.

Concern surrounds Chinese security forces in Iraq
Evacuation plans made for Chinese workers in Iraq
Officer Zhang Donghui said security for Chinese companies in Iraq is composed of three "layers". The most wide ranging protection is offered by Iraqi security forces; the second is police directly controlled by the Northern Oil Company, who guard the camp and work places of Chinese workers while Chinese security forces provide the innermost cover.

With the situation in Iraq worsening, Chinese security forces have encountered difficult circumstances. Lv Kaikai, another member of the security staff, said 4,000 land mines had been cleared in one of the oil fields he is in charge of.

The biggest challenge is that Chinese security forces are only equipped with weapons for self-defense, in consideration of local people.

Responding to notification from the Chinese embassy in Iraq that requires all Chinese enterprises to submit weekly security reports to prepare for any evacuation, experts have expressed concerns.

Should Baghdad fall into the hand of ISIS militants, the international airport will cease service, and that is the transportation hub for Chinese workers, said Zhang Dongfang. He is also concerned that workers and leaders are not vigilant enough.

The wide geographical distribution of Chinese workers is also a problem. Staff in the energy sector are scattered across the southern part of the country and many other areas around Baghdad, said Lv Kaikai. Even in the same project, thousands of colleagues are distributed in different wells.

Another problem is transportation as the number of vehicles, carrying capacity and airline capacity are limited, according to Zhang Donghui, challenging the coordination ability of Chinese companies and China’s diplomatic mission.

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