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China's belt road plan faces protests in Pakistan
Image: Unsplash

China's belt road plan faces protests in Pakistan

| @indiablooms | 22 Aug 2021, 12:41 am

Pakistan's Gwadar region is witnessing protests amid severe shortage of water and electricity and threats to livelihoods, an episode seen by many as a growing  backlash against China’s multibillion-dollar belt and road projects in the country.

This week, demonstrators including fishermen and other local workers blocked the roads in Gwadar, a coastal town in Balochistan, reports The Guardian.

They burned tyres, chanted slogans and largely shut down the city, to demand water and electricity and a stop to Chinese trawlers illegally fishing in the nearby waters and then taking the catch to China. Two people were injured when the authorities cracked down on the protesters, the newspaper reported.

Friday's attack and Chinese reaction:

The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan on Saturday condemned the Gwadar suicide attack and said  a thorough investigation into the incident should be conducted.

The Embassy said the perpetrators should be severely punished.

"The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan strongly condemns this act of terrorism, extends its sincere sympathies to the injured of both countries, and expresses its deep condolences to the innocent victims in Pakistan," the statement said.

"The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan launched the emergency plan immediately, demanding Pakistan to properly treat the wounded, conduct a thorough investigation on the attack, and severely punish the perpetrators," read 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," it said.

"Recently, the security situation in Pakistan has been severe. There have been several terrorist attacks in succession, resulting in the casualties of several Chinese citizens. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan reminds the Chinese citizens in Pakistan to be vigilant, strengthen safety precautions, reduce unnecessary outings, and take effective security protections," read the statement.

A suicide bomber blew himself off up in Gwadar region of Pakistan on Friday which left at least two boys dead and four others, including a Chinese national, injured, media reports said on Saturday.

The suicide bomber reportedly targeted a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals.

Banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Majeed Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack, reports Dawn News.

Sources told the newspaper the Chinese nationals, who were working on the under-construction East-Bay Expressway, were returning to their camp when the vehicle was hit by the blast.

BLA and its attitude towards China:

The BLA group even accuses the Chinese of exploiting Balochistan’s mineral resources.

Local political leader Faiz Nigori said for more than a month they are protesting and rallying against Chinese trawlers, shortage of water and electricity.

"The government never paid heed to our demands, and we had to observe a complete shutdown strike and we were attacked by the district administration,” Faiz Nigori, a local political worker, told The Guardian.

The protests are part of a growing discontent with China’s presence in Gwadar, whose port is an integral part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC), in which China has invested billions in infrastructure projects in Pakistan, the newspaper reported.

Under the project, Pakistan surrendered Gwadar port to a Chinese-backed multinational corporation for a lease of 40 years. It is part of China’s mammoth belt and road initiative, which stretches across 70 countries to give China a clear trade route from east Asia to Europe, the newspaper further reported.

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