By Martin Fletcher, NBC News Correspondent

VALLETTA, Malta – How things have changed. When the 2004 tsunami hit the Indian Ocean, America sent the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy to help evacuees. China sent a cargo ship.

Now to evacuate American workers from the crisis in Libya, America sent a chartered ferry too small to ride the rough seas of the Mediterranean.

China chartered a giant ocean cruise ship, 20 civilian aircraft, four military aircraft and moved 35,860 of its citizens out of danger in Libya as of Wednesday, within a week of starting the process, according to the Chinese foreign minister.


瓦莱塔,马耳他。 三十年河东,三十年河西。2004年印度洋海啸的时候,我们MD把海军第七舰队派去协助撤侨,而中国就派了一艘货船。眼下为了撤出当前利比亚危机中的美国工人,美国政府就派了条小得跟舢板似的船去风高浪急的地中海。中国出动了一艘大型巡洋舰,20架民航客机,4架军用客机,在一周之内,周三之前,就从利比亚撤出了全部的35860公民,以上消息由中国外交部长证实。

I’m thinking of the comparison as I wait for my plane in Malta, one of the evacuation hubs. Lined up in complete silence and total order are hundreds of Chinese workers wearing red caps, obeying ladies holding up red and yellow Chinese flags like any tour group at the Vatican. They follow instructions, wait in long lines, and shuffle forward when told. On command, a long single file strides through the concourse like an unstoppable column of ants. I am reminded of the 1927 German movie Metropolis.

What a difference. Not one is wearing headphones or playing with a telephone or digital device. They are all slim and fit, no sign of impending obesity. Their bags are bound with cellophane. Some are still in their orange work suits and carrying orange hardhats. They were working in Libya’s oil, rail, construction and telecommunications industries.

China’s government chartered a fleet of planes to carry them to Shanghai. Quietly, effectively, without fuss, China is evacuating all its workers to safety. It is the silent contract between state and worker: You work abroad, we’ll look after you.


我在马耳他的一个撤侨集散中心一边等我的飞机,一边思考这个对比。几百名中国工人带着红帽子排成长队,安静而有序,领队的mm举着红黄色的中国国旗,看起来就像是假期中的旅行团。他们都非常听从指挥,排成长长的队,当被叫到的时候就慢慢往前挪,命令一下就像一列不可阻挡的蚂蚁一样大步穿过集散中心。 真是跟米国不一样呀,没有人带着耳机听筒或者在玩手机等数码设备,他们身材都很纤细匀称,没有一个肥头大耳的。他们的包包都用玻璃纸捆起来,有些人还穿着橘黄色的工作服带着橘黄色的建筑帽。他们都是工作在利比亚油田,铁路,建筑,通讯行业的工人。中国政府包了一队的飞机把他们悄悄地,高效地带回上海,没有一丝的凌乱。似乎在政府和工人之间有一个不成文的协议:你在外面工作,我在后面罩你。

China’s People’s Daily boasted that it was the “largest and most complicated overseas evacuation ever conducted by the Chinese government.” And China’s foreign minister gave credit for the speedy and efficient evacuation to “China's peaceful foreign policy, which makes China a popular country in the community of nations.”

There are an estimated 50,000 Chinese workers in Nigeria, 35,000 in Sudan, 40,000 in Zambia, 30,000 in Angola, 20,000 in Algeria and thousands more dotted around the African continent. They are the face of Chinese industry, investment, diplomacy and eventually, power.

But what strikes me is the efficiency and order and calm. Nobody was arguing with the airline staff, objecting to orders, struggling with too many bags and bulky packages. Rather just a line of calm, single men with small cases, waiting patiently to be told what to do and where to go.

It occurred to me, is this the future?


中国的人民日报将这次行动自夸成是“中国政府所领导的规模最大,难度最高,情况最复杂的撤侨行动” 中国的外交部部长把撤侨行动的高效归结于“中国的和平外交政策,使得中国在国际社会成为一个受欢迎的国家。”据估计,中国在尼日尼亚有5万工人,在苏丹有3.5万,在赞比亚有4万,在安哥拉有3万,在阿尔及利亚有2万,还有数以千计的工人星罗盘布在整个非洲大陆,他们是中国工业,投资业,外交的代表,最重要的是,他们代表着中国的国家力量。真正让我震撼的是撤侨的效率,秩序,以及安静。没有人在讨论航班,反对顺序,把很多包和大袋子折腾的呯呯嗙磅,仅仅就是一条沉默的人流,耐心的等待被告知要做什么,要去哪里。看到这样我不禁想到,这是不是就是未来?

China has invested heavily in Africa while the West turned elsewhere, and Chinese companies are spreading rapidly and silently through Latin America, too. Their insatiable appetite for coal, copper, bauxite, oil, iron ore and almost every other mineral is leading them on an economic conquest like no other. Their workers lead the rush, and their government spreads its wings to protect them, wherever they are.

As 200 men lined up in a silent single file that snaked through duty-free, with nobody eyeing all the luxuries on display, waiting for a man with a Chinese flag to raise his arm and tell them to move, I didn’t know whether to be filled with admiration or trepidation.

I did think, we better keep them on our side.


当西方把注意力放到别的地方的时候,中国在非洲投了重注,同时中国公司在拉丁美洲的扩张也是非常的安静和迅速。他们对煤矿,铜,矾石,石油,铁矿以及几乎所有其他矿物无止尽的需求已经把他们引上了无人能及的经济征服道路。他们的工人冲在最前面,他们的政府张开羽翼保护着他们,无论在哪里。将近有200人排成的单列饶着圈排到了机场免税店里面,没有人瞧一眼陈列的奢侈品,他们只是在等待举中国国旗的人举起手臂告诉他们该往前挪挪鸟,我不知道我内心充满的是敬佩还是颤抖。我觉得, 我们最好把他们拉到我们这边。


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