CPEC – China's yokel of terror

July 31, 2017
By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army


According to Pakistani media, there was a major attack on Pakistan Navy at Jiwani in Gwadar on June 19 when four gunmen on two bikes ambushed a vehicle of navy officers when they were on a routine round. The attackers opened indiscriminate fire killing one officer and wounding five. The wounded were taken to Karachi for medical treatment, where another officer succumbed to his injuries, taking the death toll to two. Earlier in 2007, three Chinese workers were assassinated in Peshawar, while Al Qaeda's regional franchise, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, killed a Chinese engineer in a 2009 ambush. In March 2012, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for killing of a Chinese woman, saying it was in revenge for China's killing of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The Chinese woman was shot in a market in Peshawar, along with a Pakistani national. In June 2013, Pakistani militants dressed in Gilgit Scouts uniforms killed 10 climbers (including two Chinese nationals – Chunfeng Yang and Jianfeng Rao) and a local guide in area of Nanga Parbat. The killings were claimed by the TTP. In November 2015, post the execution of Chinese national Fan Jinghui by the ISIS, reported by ISIS's online magazine Dabiq, President Xi Jinping strongly condemned the incident and China's foreign ministry stated the Chinese government would "definitely hold the perpetrators accountable." But how and where to respond remains China's dilemma given its own links with terrorist organizations and the genocide in Xinjiang against the Uighurs. Four Chinese engineers were killed during 2016; two in a roadside blast in September and another two Chinese engineers were killed by unidentified assailants in November in Pasni and Hub districts of Balochistan respectively.

China may whitewash the recent bomb blast at Jiangsu Kindergarten as act of some 'disgruntled' element but can't hide it was a terrorist attack. The killing of Chinese nationals Lee Zingyang (24) and Meng Lisi (26) in Pakistan post abduction from Quetta, Balochistan, on May 24, 2017 was hardly a stray incident. Had the killings not been announced by the Islamic State, Beijing and Islamabad would have suppressed the news. According to one estimate, presently there are some 4,00,000 Chinese nationals pan-Pakistan, including 25,000 in Islamabad alone and another 20,000 Chinese expats are expected in Pakistan over the next five years. Pakistani academic and Karachi University political economist S Akbar Zaidi has contended that Pakistan will become a colony of China once the CPEC corridor is implemented. Delivering a lecture titled 'Has China taken over Pakistan' at the Calcutta Research Group on 9 June 2017, Zaidi said the CPEC initiative is the most discussed but the least transparent of the foreign initiative in contemporary Pakistan, adding. "It is indeed a game changer, but not in the way our ruling classes have projected it to be.

It will enslave Pakistan and undermine its sovereignty." Describing the CPEC, he said,: "It is a part of China's OBOR initiative to expand its influence in the world and Pakistan is just the geographical space used by Beijing to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. But in the process, Beijing blueprint will ensure complete control over Pakistan." But in 2012 itself, much before the CPEC plan was unveiled, veteran Pakistani army officer and scholar had gone on record to say, "There is no doubt that Pakistan will be a semi autonomous Chinese province by 2030 or so... . Pakistani Baluchistan by 2030 would be a completely Chinese run show. On the other hand, a video clip of Dr Umar Johnson has gone viral on Google and social media where he describes how the Caribbean and Africa are being colonized by China.

The astute Chinese plan to will give the lion's share to Chinese companies and Chinese colonizers, while throwing some bones towards the country that the OBOR passes through will eventually get discovered including by the Pakistani public even as their political and military masters have sold off the sovereignty of their country, pocketing millions in the process. The Pakistani population is unlikely to accept the cultural invasion of their society by the Chinese. What matters more is the sustained pace of radicalization in Pakistan will eventually take the toll of Chinese in Pakistan, given the Chinese genocide against Uighurs in Xinjiang province, no matter how many security personnel Pakistan employs to protect the rapidly increasing number of Chinese in Pakistan. Pakistani media has admitted that the recent killing of policemen in Karachi was the handiwork of fighters returned from Syria. There are thousands of Uighur fighters in Syria waiting to return home. So, the CPEC in all probability will become the yokel of terror for China.