China Focus: Operation Red Sea Echoes Yemen Rescue Mission

- Mar 16, 2018 -

A Chinese anti-terrorism action film "Operation Red Sea" has raked in over 3.36 billion yuan (531 million U.S. dollars) at the box office, becoming the third highest grossing Chinese film ever, according to Maoyan, a major Chinese film database and ticketing platform.

On Douban, China's leading film rating platform, the film scored 8.5 out of 10 points, based on more than 318,000 reviews.

Many comments on Douban mentioned the tense plot and breathtaking gunfight of the 500-million-yuan cost movie. Some viewers said it spurred them to review the evacuation of hundreds of Chinese nationals and foreign citizens from Yemen in late March 2015, which the movie is based on.

Three years have passed, but the Yemen evacuation is still remembered. Some details of the event were disclosed in Monday's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily.

The paper said as war flared in Yemen in 2015, civilian casualties were frequently reported, connection with the outside world nearly broke down, and Yemen-based people from various countries were in grave danger.

On March 27, the 19th fleet, which patrolled the Gulf of Aden and waters around Somalia, switched from escort state to combat-ready state. The PLA Navy ordered it to prepare for the repatriation of compatriots.

This was the first time China used warships to evacuate its citizens from another country in war, and the first time China evacuated foreign citizens working in Chinese companies since 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded.

On March 29, Saudi Arabian airplanes hovered in the sky, militants in swift dinghies near the fleet fired gunshots and explosions from distant hills were heard.

Frigate Linyi sailed into Yemen's territorial waters with machine gunners and snipers in position. Within just 39 minutes, 124 Chinese and foreign people were safely on board.

In the following operations, challenges emerged. Frigate Weifang, usually accommodated more than 200 personnel but had to provide beds for more than 700 people.

Staff on the frigate gave their beds to evacuees, who lived in areas separated according to gender, workplace, nationalities and families.

All staff of the frigate, from the captain to sailors, took rest in the corridors or chambers, moving many evacuees to tears.

"When it comes to humanitarian aid, China always lends its hand to all countries," the paper said.

The airport in Yemeni capital Sana'a was destroyed, flights from the isles of Socotra were suspended, and seven Chinese medical personnel and two Chinese tourists were stranded on one of the islands.

China also received a request from the Japanese government to evacuate a Japanese citizen on the island.

After coordination among all related parties and the approval of the head of the Socotra Governorate, a Chinese coast guard vessel evacuated the stranded people, including the Japanese.

Within 12 days, the Chinese Navy helped evacuate more than 620 of its nationals and more than 270 foreign citizens from 15 countries.

The evacuees, regardless of their nationality, skin color or ethnicity, were greeted with hospitality and considerate treatment, the paper said.

"The moment I saw the warship coming to the port, I almost burst into tears. It was so unexpected that a warship came to our rescue. It was like a movie," said Deng Lingling, one of the evacuees,

A Douban user nicknamed Taoliyaodeshu wrote: "The subtitle of the film rocks -- The intrepid fear nothing, the strong are invincible. Salute to the Chinese Navy and our motherland. Wherever you are, the motherland is always behind you."


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