Through the Belt and Road infrastructure program, China is the largest lender to a number of countries in the developing world, including Pakistan, but this did not prevent its interests from being attacked in Islamabad, according to a newspaper report.Wall Street Journal“.
And in April, a Pakistani mother of two blew herself up outside the gate of the Institute of Chinese Language and Culture at Karachi University, torching a minibus and killing three Chinese teachers and a Pakistani driver.
The attack — one of a growing number targeting Chinese nationals working abroad in Asia and Africa — was a sign of the growing challenges China faces as it pours money into the developing world to expand its influence, according to the report.
China has worked to portray itself as a good partner to the countries where it spends the money, in an effort to stand out from the Western powers.
However, as its global reach expands, China is increasingly grappling with the consequences of projecting power around the world, including corruption, domestic discontent, political instability and violence.
Chinese experts say Beijing accepts a degree of security risk in pursuing its Belt and Road programme, and is committed to working with partner governments, such as in Pakistan, to mitigate threats to Chinese personnel and assets.
According to the newspaper, China chose Pakistan, one of its closest allies, with deep military ties and a common rival to India, as a showcase for its investments in developing countries. Beijing has spent about $25 billion there on roads, power plants and the port.
This month, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping on his first trip to Beijing since taking office in April. The two leaders have committed themselves to the partnership between their countries.
Pakistani officials said that Islamabad had told Beijing that it could import armored vehicles for protection and that Pakistan would increase its security in some Chinese projects.
The newspaper says that Pakistan is in the midst of a political clash between the current government and its recently ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan. The country is facing 25% inflation, as well as devastating floods. China’s investment in Pakistan was supposed to lay the foundation for an economic take-off, according to both countries, but it did not work, according to the report.
Prime Minister Sharif pledged to resume China’s Belt and Road programme, which was halted during the era of his predecessor. Khan’s ministers questioned the value of energy projects for money and whether bribes were paid to build roads – accusations Beijing angrily denied.
The paper reports that many insurgents in Pakistan see Beijing as working side by side with the government they are fighting.