The embassy of Islamabad’s ally China, in an unusual security warning, cautioned its nationals in Pakistan that “terrorists” are planning to target them in a “series of attacks” soon.
“It is understood that terrorists plan in the near term to launch a series of attacks against Chinese organizations and personnel in Pakistan,” the Chinese embassy in Pakistan said in a statement, reports Reuters.
The embassy cautioned all “Chinese-invested organizations and Chinese citizens to increase security awareness, strengthen internal precautions, reduce trips outside as much as possible, and avoid crowded public spaces”.
The warning comes as scores of Chinese are working on various projects in Pakistan, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a component of Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road (OBOR)” project, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In a statement issued Friday, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan said it has learned that Pakistani terrorists intend to strike “soon,” reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
News reports acknowledge that the Chinese embassy refused to provide additional details about the imminent terrorist attack in Pakistan.
A Chinese man in Islamabad identified only by his alleged surname Liu conceded that the Chinese government rarely issues security warnings.
“So I feel like this is something serious,” Liu, who works for a Chinese financial company in Pakistan, told the Morning Post.
Referring to messages and warnings he has reportedly received in the past from other Chinese firms, he added, “We’re often being warned [in text messages] that Chinese will be targeted because of our growing presence in the country, and that we face security risks not only from the conflicting Muslim groups in the country, but also from India and the West.”
China has long considered Pakistan its ally, providing the country with economic and military aid to contain their mutual rival India.
To the ire of India, the CPEC project is expected to run through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), a Muslim-majority region claimed by New Delhi, Islamabad, and Beijing.
However, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission reported that China faces a growing Islamic terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan that may lead Beijing to reconsider its support for Islamabad.
In recent weeks, the relationship between allies China and Pakistan has been plagued by multi-billion dollar disagreements over CPEC.
CPEC is also supposed to run through Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province where suspected fighters from a separatist terrorist group—the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA)—allegedly killed 13 Pakistanis in May who were working on projects affiliated with the Chinese-funded project.
Echoing Liu’s comments to the Morning Post, a report by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) claimed late last year, “At the current rate of influx of Chinese nationals into Balochistan and after completion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the native population of the area will be outnumbered by 2048.”
At the beginning of this year, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) explained, “Hard-line Baluch nationalists, engaged in a simmering decade-old separatist insurgency, are opposed to the Chinese investments and have been attacking Pakistani security forces and Chinese workers in Balochistan since 2004.”
Beijing is also concerned about Chinese jihadists from the country’s oppressed Uighur or Uyghur minority who have long operated and trained in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
“China has long worried that Uyghur militants receive training in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria, then return to the restive Xinjiang region to plot attacks,” reports SCMP. “There are also fears that Chinese projects along the CPEC could be a target for extremists, even though the Pakistani government promised to deploy 15,000 troops for security.”
China’s Uighur-majority province, the autonomous Xinjiang region, shares a border with mainland Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Early this year, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Dan Coats warned, “The emerging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will probably offer militants and terrorists additional targets.”
Various jihadist organizations, including ISIS, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda, are known to operate in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province located along the country’s border with war-ravaged Afghanistan.
ISIS terrorists claimed to have killed two Chinese citizens in Balochistan back in June.
The Morning Post learned from Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, that “after the two Chinese were killed earlier this year, Beijing accelerated its security plans to protect the more than 30,000 Chinese nationals living in Pakistan.”
“There had been occasional attacks by separatist groups in Balochistan and Sindh, where China has invested billions to build the Gwadar port and roads,” pointed out Li.