HomeNewsDiplomatic NewsPakistan-China JCC discusses Security amid recent attacks

Pakistan-China JCC discusses Security amid recent attacks


Karachi, 24 May 2024(TDI): Pakistan and China are holding a virtual meeting of the 13th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) today, Friday, with the security of Chinese organizations and personnel working in the South Asian nation expected to be at the top of the agenda.

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and other militants have attacked Chinese projects in recent months, killing Chinese personnel, including five Chinese workers who perished in a suicide attack on March 26 while on their way to the Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan’s northwest.

The hydropower project falls under the ambit of CPEC, a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative through which it has pledged more than $65 billion for road, rail, and other infrastructure developments in the South Asian nation of 241 million people.

Pakistan has said more than 50 projects worth $25 billion under the CPEC umbrella have been completed since the project was launched in 2015.

On Friday, the 13th JCC meeting formally began with a minute of silence in honor of the Chinese nationals killed in the March suicide bombing, with Pakistan’s planning ministry describing them as “heroes of Pakistan” whose contributions had supported the realization of CPEC.

“China and Pakistan have embarked on a journey of shared dreams working hand in hand to build high-quality development projects,” Pakistani Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

“It is heartening to note the steady progress CPEC has made since its inception in 2013.”

He lauded President Xi Jinping’s vision to forge an “upgraded version” of CPEC and turn it into a growth, livelihood-enhancing, innovation, green, and regional connectivity corridor to align it with Pakistan’s 5E socio-economic framework approved last year for the promotion of exports, energy, environment, equity and empowerment.

“We are ready to work with NDRC [National Development and Reform Commission of China] to finalize the scope and implementation plan on these corridors,” Iqbal added.

The minister detailed several projects completed so far under CPEC, including the construction of around 888 kilometers of motorways and highways.

He said an 884-megawatt hydropower project at Sukhi Kinari, worth $1.7 billion, was under construction and expected to be commissioner later this year.

Three hydel power projects and one coal-based Gwadar power project with a generation capacity of 2,100 megawatts were in the advanced stages of completion.

Beijing has also over the years readily provided financial assistance to bail out its often-struggling neighbor, including in July last year when China granted Pakistan a two-year rollover on a $2.4 billion loan, giving the debt-saddled nation much-needed breathing space as it tackled a balance-of-payments crisis.

But Chinese projects and interests have also increasingly come under attack in recent years.

The Dasu assault in March was the third major one in a little over a week on China’s interests and followed a March 20 attack on a strategic port used by China in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where Beijing has poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects including a deep-sea port, and a March 25 assault on a naval air base, also in the southwest.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for both attacks. They are the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan.

In the past, there have been attacks on Dasu, the site of a major dam. A bus blast in 2021 killed 13 people, including nine Chinese. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Pakistan is home to twin insurgencies, one mounted by religiously motivated militants and the other by ethnic separatists who seek secession, blaming the government’s inequitable division of natural resources in southwestern Balochistan province.

Chinese interests are mostly under attack primarily by ethnic militants seeking to push Beijing out of mineral-rich Balochistan, but that area is far from the site of the March 26 bombing.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s top economic body approved $2.5 million in compensation for families of Chinese workers killed in the March 26 Dasu attack.

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