ISLAMABAD: China on Thursday asked Islamabad to improve security conditions for its workers in Pakistan as a “precondition” for progress on the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
The demand came during a meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), the apex decision-making body for the economic corridor projects.
The meeting, held after a hiatus of almost two years, was co-chaired by Pakistan’s Planning Minister Asad Umar and Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) deputy chief Ning Jizhe.
“Recently, we have seen the unfortunate increase in tragic incidents happening to Chinese people and Chinese companies in Pakistan,” Ning said.
“We hope that Pakistan will take effective measures to strengthen protection of Chinese people and Chinese employees in Pakistan so they can work in [a] safe environment.”
Last month, a suicide bomb attack on a motorcade carrying Chinese personnel injured one Chinese national and killed two local children in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province. The incident took place on the East Bay Expressway in the port city of Gwadar, which lies at the heart of CPEC.
The Gwadar attack followed the 14 July bombing that killed nine Chinese nationals among 13 people, who were en route to a dam construction site in northern Pakistan.
Planning Minister Umar noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself led security reviews after the recent attacks targeting Chinese nationals in Pakistan.
“[An] expanded security system has been designed, it has been shared with the Chinese,” Umar said at Thursday’s meeting, adding that he was confident of a secure environment for workers on the joint projects.
CPEC has seen Beijing pledge over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan, central to China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond.
Umar said the Pakistani government was fully committed to CPEC and considered it critical for the country’s growth and development.
In a Twitter post earlier, he expressed hopes that the “JCC will lay the foundation for further acceleration and broadening of CPEC.”