Double jeopardy for Chinese in Pakistan
After having been subjected to repeated acts of aggression, foreign control, and annexations of its territory, China has become highly sensitive to separatist movements to the extent of being obsessive. Beijing has tried hard to crush the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM) and sought the help of neigbouring countries to ensure that Chinese separatists do not operate from their territory. Pakistan took special measures to take out ETIM activists that once operated from tribal areas. It also handed over several wanted separatists to China.
With terrorism becoming a global phenomenon hundreds of ETIM activists managed to establish themselves in insurgency torn countries like Syria and Iraq. Some continued propaganda from abroad in support of the separation of the Chinese province of Sinkiang. Still others indulged in terrorist attacks to publicise their case or as acts of revenge. In 2015 ETIM separatists were accused of conducting the deadly bombing of Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine. In 2016 a suicide bomber rammed his car into the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, injuring at least three employees. The driver of the car was cited by Kyrgyz authorities as a member of the ETIM.
Fears expressed by the Chinese embassy of a possible attack on ambassador Yao Jing are apparently based on solid intelligence which names a terrorist sent by the ETIM for the attack who has already entered Pakistan. Besides requesting more security for the envoy the memo also seeks the terrorist’s arrest. The Chinese in Pakistan face threats from a number of sources besides the ETIM. There are countries unhappy over the CPEC, the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The close relations between Pakistan and China also stand in the way of the fulfillment of their strategic goals. These elements can go to any extent in pursuit of their agenda. There is therefore a dire need to provide fool proof security to the new Chinese envoy who being an expert in the affairs of the region is a great asset for both Pakistan and China.