By HUI JIA
TRIPOLI (China Daily Show) — The Chinese navy has dispatched three warships and two transports to return several thousand Chinese nationals from Libya, after widespread reports of “violent homesickness” among workers there.
The migrants, who had been working in the northern city of Benghazi, contacted officials in China requesting “immediate evacuation.”
Admiral Han Ruilong of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, speaking from the deck of the Zhang Hue 4, now loaded with evacuees on their way to the Suez Canal, told state media that the evacuation was not connected to the ongoing Libyan uprising.
“After months of happy and productive work, Chinese workers missed their families and homestyle cooking,” Admiral Han said. “Therefore, the government decided to bring them home, as a kind of Spring Festival surprise gift.”
Family members back home told China Daily Show of their concern for the comfort of their relatives in Libya. “They are coming, God help us, they are coming!” were the hysterical words of Jiang Jiefang, 44, as related by his wife, Chen Dujuan, during a phone call last week.
According to Admiral Han, “they” refers to the “weekly visit of supply trucks at the mutual development project where Jiang works.”
In an act of supreme patriotism, Jiang decided to stay in Libya indefinitely to help supervise the evacuation, Admiral Han added. Despite this, Chen says she has been unable to get through to her husband since his last conversation was cut short by the sounds of “traditional loud Arab greetings.”
“Due to the important national security nature of my husband’s work, I have been asked never to refer to him in public ever again,” Chen told reporters, her eyes filled with tears of pride.
Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared on state-owned television reports, gesticulating on the balcony of his Tripoli palace while helicopters circled overhead, to discuss the situation.
“I am deeply sorry that these great contributors to African development must return home,” Gaddafi was quoted by CCTV News as saying, while he shook his fist remorsefully. “China must truly be a wonderful place to provoke such a sudden rush of homesickness.”
As thousands of grieving citizens are being transported from Tunisia and Egypt, media analysts are warning that a “domino effect of violent hankering” appears to be sweeping the Middle East.
The Chinese government has warned of equally concerning outbreaks of sudden wistful yearning among disaffected and poorly treated migrant workers in China’s urban areas.
This is also not the first time Chinese officials have mobilized the country’s military in response to her citizens’ sense of longing.
According to the Ministry of Information, the PLA was mobilized in 1989 after several hundred thousand students visiting Beijing became stranded when touring the Forbidden City.
In central Beijing Sunday, security officials were handing out free water outside one McDonalds restaurant to anyone who expressed signs of heartsickness.
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