11 April 2014
It all happened in just five minutes. A female Chinese tourist was kidnapped by armed Filipino men from an island resort off the eastern coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah late on April 2. This took place less than half a year after another female Chinese tourist from Taiwan was kidnapped, and later released, under very similar circumstances from a nearby resort.
As China’s economy takes off, many of its wealthier citizens venture overseas for their vacations. From a positive point of view, this helps in linking China with the rest of the world.
The number of Chinese tourists to Sabah, for example, grew by 87 percent in 2013, and was on par with those visiting the famous Indonesian island of Bali. Sabah’s tourism industry has blossomed as a result, and the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Malaysian people has also deepened.
Nevertheless, the safety of Chinese tourists overseas has also become an exigent issue. In the past, tourists from richer nations such as the US and Japan were often prominent targets for petty and sometimes even violent crimes. Now Chinese tourists too are becoming victims.
It is high time for the proper protection of Chinese tourists overseas to be considered an extension of China’s crucial national interest.
… The author is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and president of Sabah Ma Zhong Friendship Association.
IDSS / RSIS / Print
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