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29 Nov 2022

Saeed Shah / Chun Han Wong - The Wall Street Journal (USA)

Pakistan: Chinese workers remain targets of attack as China's massive infrastructure investment meets resistance

"China Is Investing Billions in Pakistan. Its Workers There Are Under Attack" 23 November 2022

In April, a Pakistani mother of two blew herself up outside the gate of Karachi University’s Chinese language and culture institute, incinerating a minibus and killing three Chinese teachers and a Pakistani driver.

The attack—one of a growing number targeting Chinese nationals working abroad in Asia and Africa—was a sign of China’s deepening challenges as it pours money into the developing world with the aim of extending its influence.

China is the largest lender to the developing world, mainly through Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructure program. The country has worked to portray itself as a benevolent partner to the countries where it is spending money, in an attempt to draw a distinction with Western powers.

Still, as its global reach expands, China is increasingly grappling with the consequences of projecting power around the world, including corruption, local resentment, political instability and violence. For developing countries, China offers perhaps the best chance of quickly building major infrastructure. [...]

The Pakistani Taliban also tried in 2021 to assassinate the Chinese ambassador, whose car was about two minutes away from arriving at a hotel that was bombed, Pakistani security officials say.

In Karachi, the Baloch militants have attacked the Chinese consulate and the stock exchange, in which Chinese investors have a controlling interest. [...]

This month, Pakistan’s prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, made his first trip to Beijing since taking office in April. Both leaders committed to their countries’ partnership.

“China views its relations with Pakistan from a strategic and long-term perspective, and Pakistan has always been a high priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy,” Mr. Xi said, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Xi also expressed concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in the country. Islamabad told Beijing it could import armored vehicles for protection and that Pakistan would increase its security at some Chinese projects, Pakistani officials said.

After the April attack at the gate of Karachi University, Beijing sought to bring Chinese private security contractors into Pakistan. Islamabad, which provides 30,000 Pakistani soldiers to guard the Chinese, denied the request, according to Pakistani officials. [...]