China is preparing a mass evacuation of its citizens from Libya, where a violent uprising has seen Chinese interests come under attack.
Beijing said Wednesday it is sending a fleet of ships, buses and planes to Libya to evacuate over 30,000 Chinese nationals.
A chartered plane left Beijing Wednesday loaded with food and medical supplies, and will also take part in the mission.
Hundreds have been killed in an uprising against leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Scores of Chinese working on Chinese-funded oil fields and rail and telecommunications projects have also been attacked by armed looters and robbers.
Beijing has called on Tripoli to ensure the safety of its citizens and backed a United Nations Security Council call to seek an investigation into the violence against its interests.
Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based analyst who writes on Chinese politics, says China is in "firefighting mode". He says Beijing is not concerned about the criticism it has gotten for not joining the international community in condemning the Libya’s use of force to quell the protests.
"I'm not sure the government is concerned right now about its image overseas or protecting developing countries or looking out for allies per se. I think it is really concerned in the short term at this point and the emergency situation and protecting Chinese,” said Moses.
On Tuesday, Gadhafi appeared to try to justify the violence by drawing parallels with the Chinese Communist Party's use of deadly military force to put down the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protest.
Chinese censors have blacked out Gadhafi's reference on news reports, including those aired by international broadcasters.