JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Bearing 678 evacuees from Sudan across the Red Sea, two silver-grey Chinese navy vessels, with Chinese national flags fluttering and their pennants waving, slowly entered the port of Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia at around 10:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on a sunny Thursday.
On the dock, the welcoming crowd unfurled a huge Chinese national flag and red banners that read "Motherland Compatriots, Welcome to the Harbor."
After the guided-missile destroyer Nanning and comprehensive supply ship Weishanhu berthed at the port, the evacuees, including 668 Chinese citizens and 10 foreign nationals, filed out of the cabins and down the gangway to the accompaniment of "My Motherland" and other beautiful Chinese songs. They soon found themselves warmly received by a group of Chinese diplomats and Chinese-funded companies, as well as officials from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the Saudi Navy, and the Saudi Coast Guard.
"The strong motherland is our strong backing!" Chen Lihui, an employee of the Blue Sky Hotel in Sudan, repeated in an interview with Xinhua after getting off one of the vessels.
"Thank you, my country! I felt so proud of my motherland when I first saw our navy vessels coming," Xiao Yongjian, a man from central China's Hubei Province doing business in Sudan, told Xinhua, bubbling with excitement.
Fifteen-year-old Xu Yiman, who has a Sudanese father and a Chinese mother, is a high school freshman living in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum before the evacuation. Fascinated by the Chinese vessels, she said cheerfully that she had been taken good care of by the crew onboard.
"Our motherland is our harbor," said Wang Bingbing, a staff member of the China Harbor in Sudan, who, together with his colleagues, provided volunteer services for evacuees in the conflict-ravaged country.
Ding Jiaxing, a crew member of Weishanhu, said he felt a deep sense of pride and responsibility as a Chinese sailor to help both his compatriots and foreign nationals evacuate from Sudan, which has seen deadly armed clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces since mid-April.
Thursday's overseas evacuation mission is the third of its kind the Chinese navy carried out in recent years, following previous two operations in Libya and Yemen in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
Yin Lijun, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, told Xinhua at the port of Jeddah that the latest operation in Sudan demonstrates again the people-centered philosophy of the Communist Party of China.
"We are determined to face difficulties and dangers and do our best to safeguard Chinese citizens' safety, rights, and interests overseas," he said.