By Xinhua Writer Chen Shilei
BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- After his arrival in Angola on Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang sat down for a seminar with over 40 members of the local Chinese business community, focusing on how to better protect the legitimate rights of overseas compatriots.
The issue is high on the agenda of Li's first Africa tour as premier, underlining Beijing's determination to provide stronger protection for the legitimate rights of Chinese companies and citizens overseas to match the new reality of China's growing business and people-to-people ties with the rest of the world.
With rapid growth in foreign trade, in recent years the Chinese government has been encouraging Chinese enterprises to go abroad for new opportunities.
Every year, nearly 100 million Chinese citizens leave their country for business, tourism, study or other purposes. There are more than 20,000 Chinese companies operating abroad.
Take Africa as an example. In 2013, China-Africa trade exceeded 210 billion U.S. dollars, 2,000 times that of 1960. China has been Africa's biggest trading partner for five years running. More than 2,500 Chinese companies are operating in Africa, creating more than 100,000 jobs for the local communities in which they operate.
Last year, the more than 1.4 million visits by Chinese travelers generated huge exchange revenue for Africa.
According to an IMF report, China-Africa cooperation has contributed to more than 20 percent of Africa's development.
The expansion of Chinese interests abroad needs a corresponding capability to protect them, an issue Beijing now regards as a priority in its foreign policy.
In fact, China has been endeavoring to improve its capability to safeguard its interests abroad.
In the 2011 Libya turmoil, more than 35,000 Chinese were evacuated from the turbulent West African country thanks to the support of the Chinese government. China's effective operation to withdraw its citizens earned international praise.
Still, there is a great space for China to enhance the capability in this aspect.
"We will do what we can to implement the initiatives to better protect and serve overseas Chinese and provide stronger protection for their growing legitimate rights and interests abroad," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
The Chinese government has pledged to take further steps and cooperate with other countries to protect the interests of Chinese companies and citizens based on the spirit of mutual respect, pragmatism and efficiency.
Meanwhile, it has repeatedly called on Chinese companies and citizens to abide by local laws, follow local customs and try their best to adapt their way of life to the local environment.
For the host countries, they need to ensure they have sufficient market regulation and public security measures and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies in their territory and the safety of their employees.