China to Increase its Military Spending
Military delegates from the Chinese People's Liberation Army arrive at Tiananmen Square for a meeting during the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, in Beijing, March 4, 2012. Reuters

The evacuation of more than 900 people from war-torn Yemen by China's navy has won the nation praise from individuals and governments. It's also a public relations opportunity that Bejing is working hard to make the most of.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has been touting the success of the naval force, known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy, which was able to evacuate hundreds of Chinese nationals and foreigners to safety as air strikes and violence continues in the Arabian Peninsula. Lauding the success of the evacuation aims to boost domestic and international public confidence in China’s ability to achieve its goal of being recognized as a military power with the global clout to operate successfully in such far-flung regions as the waters off Yemen.

Xinhua published a feature on its Yemen rescue efforts, which wrapped up on Tuesday, that highlighted the work of the crew on two ships, even invoking Noah, a character from the Hebrew Bible, in describing what its naval forces achieved.

After four operations beginning at the end of March, a total of 629 Chinese citizens and 279 foreign citizens left Yemen with the help of the Chinese naval ships. “Lending a helping hand to its nationals as well as citizens of 15 other countries in need, China has shown a humanitarian spirit and great responsibility,” the state media report said.

During the operation, citizens from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Poland, Italy, Geramany, Great Britain, Canada, Ireland and Yemen were evacuated by the Chinese. The Chinese media report featured comments from non-Chinese citizens who were rescued. “After receiving our request, Chinese diplomats immediately contacted us and treated us in the same way as Chinese citizens,” Usaca Perera, a Sri Lankan citizen who was one of more than 40 Sri Lankans evacuated previously, said. “It’s so reassuring to have a powerful China as our friend. On behalf of my compatriots, I thank the Chinese government.”

Foreign government officials have also recognized the Chinese navy's efforts. “We are grateful to the government of China, the people of China, the navy of China, for bringing our people safely to Djibouti,” the Pakistani ambassador to Ethiopia, Imran Yawar, told Xinhua.

“Humanitarianism should firstly be a collective effort,” Djibouti’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, said. “I think other countries should follow the example of China.”