Beijing’s embassy in Ukraine announced Monday that most of the approximately 6,000 Chinese nationals previously in the country had been evacuated, as Russia stepped up the shelling of multiple cities.
In the weeks leading up to the conflict, Chinese state media dismissed US warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. Unlike many Western nations, Beijing waited until after war broke out on February 24 to tell its citizens to evacuate.
“At present, most Chinese compatriots in Ukraine have already been evacuated,” the embassy said in a social media statement.
“At present, the tense situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate… the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine solemnly reminds remaining Chinese compatriots to leave the country as soon as possible.”
China has walked a diplomatic tightrope during the crisis, refusing to condemn its close ally Russia, which has been targeted by a barrage of international sanctions.
Some Chinese citizens have reported hostility or violence from locals over the Chinese government’s perceived support of Moscow.
Last week, China’s foreign ministry said it had helped around 3,000 Chinese nationals to evacuate, mostly via land transport after Ukraine closed its airspace.
The first government-chartered evacuation flight landed in China on Saturday from Romania.
As the conflict worsened, one Chinese national was injured by a bullet last week while trying to flee to western Ukraine. Beijing has not confirmed who fired the shot.
China’s foreign minister urged Ukraine to “assume its due international responsibility” in keeping Chinese citizens safe, during a call with his Ukrainian counterpart last week.
In recent days there have been reports of Russian soldiers violating ceasefire agreements and targeting civilians, as besieged cities attempt to set up humanitarian corridors for evacuation purposes.