Over the past 10 days, 54 Chinese nationals have been taken prisoner in Sudan and Egypt, putting greater pressure on China to protect its 800,000 citizens working overseas in resource-rich but high-risk investment environments.
On Jan. 28, rebels allied with South Sudan seized 29 Chinese construction workers building roads in the Sudanese border state of South Kordofan. Three days later, Bedouin tribesmen kidnapped 25 Chinese cement factory workers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The prisoners taken in Egypt were released the next day, and those in Sudan were freed Tuesday -- after more than a week in captivity -- following the intervention of the International Committee of the Red Cross.*
“The government is in a delicate position as it struggles to manage its international political and economic interests and protect the safety of its citizens abroad, many of whom work in countries in conflict,” said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the International Crisis Group’s Beijing-based North East Asia project director.