The new security protocols, previously applicable only to Chinese personnel involved in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, will now extend to experts and investors engaged in other activities, a Nikkei Asia report said.
Under these revised procedures, all Chinese individuals working in Pakistan are required to register their residential addresses with local police. Additionally, they must ensure that their travel within the country is conducted in bulletproof vehicles. This move comes as a response to concerns over potential attacks, particularly in light of the recent merger of separatist groups which has raised fears of increased militant activities.
The decision to bolster security for Chinese nationals underscores the growing concerns about their safety in Pakistan, a key partner in China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. The initiative, which aims to develop infrastructure and strengthen economic ties across Asia, Africa, and Europe, has seen significant Chinese investment and presence in Pakistan, necessitating heightened security measures.
Rising militant attacks
Thousands of Chinese citizens are working on China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, but growing militant attacks against foreigners, particularly in the turbulent southwestern Baluchistan province, have alarmed Beijing and led to a slowdown on some of the projects in recent months.
Ethnic Baluch insurgents took credit for plotting the Karachi attack as they have done for other raids on Chinese nationals. The insurgents claim to be fighting for an independent Baluchistan and denounce CPEC projects in the natural resources-rich region, alleging the projects are meant to deprive local residents of their resources.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping had hosted wide-ranging bilateral talks with prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and “expressed his great concern” about the security of Chinese nationals in the long-time South Asian allied country.
“President Xi expressed his great concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan and conveyed his hope that Pakistan will provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel working on cooperation projects there,” a Chinese foreign ministry statement had said.
The Chinese people in Pakistan comprise one of the country’s significant expatriate communities. The CPEC has raised the expatriate population, which has grown from 20,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in 2018.
Due to various threats to Chinese workers in Pakistan, the Chinese embassy has formed a liaison committee with the Pakistani government to look into safety issues.