As the violence in Yemen worsens, with Saudi Arabia leading air strikes against Houthi forces, China has joined a number of countries in evacuating personnel from the country. China sent a PLA Navy frigate, the Weifang, to Yemen to assist in evacuations. According to Xinhua, 449 Chinese citizens, plus six citizens of other countries, left Yemen Monday aboard the Weifang. An additional 122 Chinese citizens left on Sunday from the port of Aden, where Chinese warships were also used to help carry evacuees to safety.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, the navy vessels were diverted from their primary mission, conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, to conduct the evacuation. The 122 citizens who left Yemen on Sunday were taken to Djibouti, where the Chinese Embassy is helping arrange their return to China. The Chinese government “places great importance on the safety of Chinese citizens and entities in Yemen,” Hua said, noting that the evacuation operation began in earnest as the security situation “abruptly deteriorated” on Thursday.
As of Monday, “Chinese Ambassador Tian Qi and a necessary number of embassy staff are now holding their posts in Yemen,” Hua said, and were doing the work necessary to complete the evacuation of Chinese nationals. Xinhua noted that the embassy will remain open and “will continue to assist a small number of Chinese nationals who choose to stay in Yemen.” The U.S. and a number of other countries closed their embassies and evacuated staff back in February.