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Attack on bus that killed nine Chinese engineers in Pakistan breached four layers of security

Chinese nationals get four layers of security in Pakistan (Photo: IANS)

The attack on a bus that killed nine Chinese engineers not far from Dasu hydropower site in northern Pakistan earlier this month had breached four layers of security.

Lu Wei, a security expert at ZhongAnTeWei, a firm engaged in providing  security to  Chinese companies operating in Pakistan told South China Morning Post (SCMP)  that Chinese nationals working in Pakistan were provided with four layers of security.

Pakistan’s military personnel provided an outer ring of security. This was followed by a second layer comprising of 15,000-strong dedicated security force of Pakistanis, who were in charge of  protecting 7,000 Chinese citizens.

There has been a large influx of Chinese personnel working on projects, which are part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a massive undertaking that starts from Gwadar on the Arabian Sea coast and snakes northwards towards Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region. The corridor has to pass through Gilgit-Baltistan, breaching India’s claim over undivided Jammu and Kashmir.

Indianarrative.com had earlier reported that Pakistan has raised two special security divisions (SSD) to provide protection to Chinese contractors and workers along CPEC which is completely funded by China. Chinese have been spending  money on the two Special Security Divisions (SSDs) — the 34 and 44 Light Infantry Divisions — with 15,000 troops each. While the 34 Light Division was created in September 2016, the 44 Light Division was developed in 2020.

Private security companies, set up by other countries or as joint ventures with Chinese firms, form the third security cordon. Finally, guards that include retired soldiers hired by Chinese companies form the innermost security ring.  

Li Wei, a counterterrorism expert from the Beijing based China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told SCMP that China lacked a sufficient number of professionals who understood the hazards of working abroad in restive areas.

“There is a lack of talent in Chinese companies investing in these nations who fully understand the security threats, do proper planning and communicate with local police and the military,” Li was quoted as saying.

The daily pointed out that seven Chinese government agencies, including the ministries of commerce, foreign affairs, and public security, had  released a joint document in 2010 which focused on the safety of Chinese nationals and companies  working abroad. However, the listed protocols were not mandatory.

“There is no requirement from the Chinese government on how much money companies should spend on security. But some nations demand companies spend 3 to 12 percent of their investment money on security,” Li was quoted as saying.

Chinese state media is also signalling that  Beijing maybe considering sending its Special Forces following the July 14 terror attack.

The Global Times tabloid affiliated with official People’s Daily wrote in a scathing editorial that "[China] will not only provide the necessary support and assistance if Pakistan's strength is insufficient, China's missiles and special forces could also directly participate in operations to eliminate threats against Chinese in Pakistan with the consent of Pakistan. We will set an example as a deterrent." 

Also Read: China considering sending boots on the ground into Pakistan to safeguard nationals after bus blast—Global Times