Two Chinese who were seriously injured in Fiji have been safely transported to their home country with the help of South Korea's foreign ministry and the country's top carrier Korean Air Lines Co., diplomatic sources said Sunday.
The move is seen as an exemplary case of consular cooperation between Seoul and Beijing, even as China is voicing strong opposition to Seoul's planned deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system.
On Tuesday, two Chinese workers in their 50s were seriously injured at a construction site in Fiji, necessitating transportation to China for possible surgery, according to diplomatic sources and the Korean airline.
The Chinese Embassy in the Pacific Island country contacted the South Korean diplomatic mission there to ask for cooperation with an immediate transport, they said.
China's move came amid concerns that its nationals might have to get emergency treatment in South Korea before being moved to China, as the workers' injuries were serious enough to need surgery, they said.
The South Korean Embassy in Fiji helped the Chinese with the cooperation of Korean Air, which is running a direct flight linking Fiji's capital of Suva and Incheon, west of Seoul.
Seoul's foreign ministry swiftly issued five-day visas to allow the injured Chinese to stay in South Korea for possible treatment to brace for the possibility of their health deteriorating, the sources said.
Korean Air said it transported them to Incheon by allowing them to lie down and relax on six economy seats near an emergency exit on the flight.
They arrived in Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway, on Friday, but they left for China the next day after receiving treatment and resting at a medical center in the airport.
"The case is a good example of consular cooperation between South Korea and China which took place in a third country," said a diplomatic source. (Yonhap)