China starts evacuating citizens from Ukraine, one injured

China has been walking a diplomatic tightrope on the Ukraine conflict, balancing its oft-repeated insistence on the sanctity of state sovereignty with an unwillingness to call out its close ally Russia.

While countries including the United States, Britain and Japan evacuated diplomats and urged citizens to leave in the weeks leading up to the invasion, China waited until last Thursday to announce that it would organise charter flights out.

But those flights have not yet materialised and Ukraine has now closed its airspace.

The Chinese ambassador in a video message last Sunday denied that he had fled Kyiv and said that he was "waiting until it is safe" to evacuate.

China has said that around 6,000 of its citizens are in Ukraine for work or study.

Its embassy in Kyiv initially urged those planning to leave to fix a Chinese flag to their vehicles, but reversed course after unverified social media claims emerged of rising hostility towards Chinese citizens.

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China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was helping citizens leave the country, but did not offer details.

"The Chinese foreign ministry and the Chinese embassy and consulate in Ukraine have dispatched all resources and made all efforts to provide support and assistance," ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a routine briefing.

The Polish embassy in China said on Monday that Chinese nationals evacuating Ukraine can enter Poland and stay visa-free for up to 15 days.

Artmotion Asia

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