The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a media statement that Beijing is not satisfied with the security arrangements for the Chinese companies and nationals working on the CPEC projects across Pakistan. The FO said that Chinese diplomats met with their Pakistani counterparts on the sidelines of the recent UNGA summit where they asked for tighter security arrangements.
According to reports, after not being able to reapy the debt owed to power companies and providing additional security to Chinese nationals, the Pakistani government has failed to take China into confidence. Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly chatted with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during the UNGA Summit and asked for tighter security arrangements for Chinese nationals working in Pakistan.
Soon after the premiers’ meeting, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, flew to China to meet with the Chinese Defense Minister.
Commentators say that despite the high-level meetings between Chinese and Pakistani officials, many problems are still not resolved, repaying the debt to Chinese power companies and security arrangements of Chinese workers in Pakistan being top priorities.
Pakistani financial analyst Farrukh Saleem has argued that China and Pakistan never discuss the aforementioned issue on the record. But this time Beijing broke the protocol and publicly called on Pakistan for repaying the debt it owns to power companies and tightening the security of Chinese nationals working in the country.
This points toward the conclusion that the relationship between China and Pakistan is going through a tough time, and the latter has failed to take the former into confidence.
It is pertinent to mention that Chinese nationals in Pakistan have suffered multiple attacks in Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the hands of armed outfits. In April this year, the Baloch Liberation Army targeted Chinese teachers in a suicide attack at the Karachi University, killing three.
In July, the Chinese engineers working at the Dasu Hydropower Project in KP’s district Kohistan also came under attack where multiple workers were wounded.
Pakistan provided additional security to the Chinese nationals working in Pakistan after the two attacks and tightened the security arrangements already in place. Analysts argue that these two attacks shook Beijing’s confidence in Pakistan’s ability to protect Chinese civilians.
Pakistani Foreign Officials and Chinese diplomats also considered the possibility of forming a separate working group to provide security to Chinese nationals working on non-CPEC projects in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail also formed a special committee comprising officials from the Defense Ministry of Pakistan, the Power Division, and the CPEC Authority to do away with the reservations about the repayment of debt owed to Chinese power companies.