Pakistan Reader# 182, 23 August 2021
The latest attack, barely a month after the Dasu incident, has taken place despite Pakistan's efforts to step up security of Chinese nationalsApoorva Sudhakar
On 20 August near Gwadar, two children were killed in a suicide attack, claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), targeting a Chinese convoy. Two other children and one Chinese national were injured; the Chinese nationals in the convoy were working on the East-Bay Expressway construction in Gwadar. Further, the attack took place near a fishermen’s colony. Following the incident, the Interior Ministry released a statement terming it a cowardly act. The Ministry said the convoy had key security details of the police and Pakistan army.
On 21 August, the Chinese Embassy condemned the incident and urged Pakistan to ensure necessary preventive measures against such attacks. The Embassy called for thorough investigation and severe punishment of the attackers. Dawn quoted from the statement, “At the same time, relevant departments at all levels in Pakistan must take practical and effective measures to accelerate to implement strengthened whole-process security measures and upgraded security cooperation mechanism to ensure that similar incidents will not happen again.”
Recent attacks on Chinese investments in Pakistan
However, attacks targeting Chinese persons and projects are not new;
July 2021: The latest incident comes a month after 13 people, including nine Chinese engineers were killed in an explosion near the Dasu hydropower plant in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Upper Kohistan district. Several, including 33 Chinese nationals, were injured in the explosion. The initial reports from the incident presented conflicted results; later, an investigation team was constituted which also comprised 15 Chinese officials.
June 2020: Prior to this, the BLA claimed an attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on 29 June 2020; the attack is believed to have been carried out because China had acquired 40 per cent of the shares in the bourse in 2016, and had also taken over the management controls.
Similarly, 2018 witnessed a series of attacks targeting the Chinese.
November 2018: An armed assault was carried out on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi; the attack was suspected to be carried out by the BLA. A shootout ensued which led to the death of three terrorists, two Pakistani policemen and two civilians. Earlier,
August 2018: Six people were injured in a suicide attack in Balochistan’s Dalbandin, targeting a vehicle which had Chinese engineers.
February 2018: Two Chinese nationals, working in the Cosco Shipping Lines Pakistan, were attacked by unknown gunmen, leaving one dead and one injured.
The increasing attacks have been linked to the CPEC investments; the planning and interior ministries estimate that following the CPEC’s launch in 2013, around 60,000 Chinese nationals have moved to Pakistan. Meanwhile, despite Pakistan’s effort to strengthen the security of Chinese nationals, attacks continue to recur; around 10,000 soldiers, several thousand paramilitary and police personnel have been deployed to ensure the security.
Chinese investments in Gwadar
Gwadar is a key investment area for China since it is connected to several projects under the USD 62 billion worth China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In June 2021, former chairman of the CPEC Authority Asim Bajwa announced that a USD three billion Chinese investment in the Gwadar Port Free Zone would create 30,000 jobs. He outlined that China Port Holding company had carried out the infrastructural development of the four berths of the Gwadar Port at USD 300 million. Close to the port, the Chinese have set up three factories. The trade from the port is estimated to increase to 13 million tonnes by 2020.
The Chinese have also invested in building an airport in Gwadar. In 2017, China made a disbursement of USD 230 million for the project. Between 2014 and 2017, China had promised USD 800 million in grants and concessional loans to Gwadar.
Saleem Shahid and Behram Baloch, “Two boys killed, Chinese man injured in Gwadar suicide attack,” Dawn, 21 August 2021
Naveed Siddiqui, “‘Punish the perpetrators’: China presses Pakistan for ‘practical measures’ after Gwadar attack,” Dawn, 21 August 2021
Nisar Ahmad Khan, “9 Chinese, 4 Pakistanis killed in Dasu bus tragedy,” Dawn, 15 July 2021
“15 Chinese officials part of Dasu incident investigation: Sheikh Rashid,” Dawn, 17 July 2021
FM Shakil, “Separatists in Pakistan target Chinese developments,” Asia Times, 21 Cotober 2021
Sabir Shah, “History of attacks, accidents involving Chinese nationals working in Pakistan,” The News International, 15 July 2021)
“$3bn Chinese investment in Gwadar Port Free Zone to create 30,000 jobs: Asim Bajwa,” Geo News, 1 June 2021
“China lavishes aid on Pakistan's Gwadar,” The News International, 17 December 2017