A worried China has asked Pakistan to ensure safety of Chinese projects and its citizens in the country after Wednesday’s deadly shuttle bus blast in north Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killed at least 13 including 9 Chinese. A further 28 Chinese nationals were among the 36 people injured, in the worst incident so far to befall the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi condemned the blast and urged the Pakistani authorities to get to the bottom of the incident. A joint investigation has been announced after China expressed shock and dismay.
Pakistan has said on Wednesday that the blast occurred due to mechanical failure while Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately termed it as a bombing attack.
Wang Yi met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday in Dushanbe and called for a probe into whether it was the result of a terror attack.
Wang Yi met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday in Dushanbe and called for a probe into whether it was the result of a terror attack. Wang told Qureshi that lessons should be learned from the incident, and the security measures for China-Pakistan cooperation projects should be further strengthened to ensure the safe and smooth operation of all projects.
Media reports in China are terming the cause of the accident as a “bombing”, reflecting long-held concerns about the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan, where large numbers are now based to supervise and build infrastructure projects worth tens of billions of dollars funded by Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
But the projects have sparked resentment among locals who say there have been few benefits for them, along with the jobs they create being lost to foreigners.
Previous Attacks on Chinese projects
There have been previous attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan, including a deadly suicide blast in April 2021 at a luxury hotel in Quetta in southwest Balochistan where the Chinese ambassador was staying. He was unhurt in the attack, for which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.
In 2019, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Balochistan overlooking a flagship Chinese-backed project – the deepwater Gwadar seaport that gives China strategic access to the Arabian Sea – killing at least eight people.
In June 2020, Baloch insurgents targeted the Pakistan stock exchange, citing its link with China, in the commercial capital of Karachi.
In May 2017, two Chinese nationals were killed in southwestern Balochistan province, Pakistan, days after they were kidnapped by armed men pretending to be policemen from the city of Quetta.