Chinese CPEC workers to travel in bullet-proof cars: report

CPEC China Pakistan Gilgit-Baltistan

Pakistan and China have agreed to use bullet-proof vehicles for all outdoor movements of the Chinese nationals working on the CPEC projects in Pakistan to protect them from terrorist attacks after Beijing expressed concern over their security, according to a media report on Sunday.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) links Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The $60 billion CPEC is part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jinping.

The security of Chinese workers has been a huge hurdle in the implementation of its various projects.

According to the draft minutes of the 11th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of the CPEC, both sides have also agreed to strengthen the capabilities of the law-enforcement agencies and investigators, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

“It has been decided that bullet-proof vehicles shall be used for all outdoor movements of the Chinese employed on projects,” said the draft minutes of the 11th JCC, which had been exchanged by Pakistan and China.

President Xi last week had expressed "deep concern" over the security of Chinese nationals working in Pakistan on the CPEC projects and sought "reliable and safe environment" for them in his talks with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his maiden visit to Beijing to bolster the all-weather friendship.

The decisions may help address the concerns of the Chinese government, the report said.

The draft minutes further showed that the Chinese side committed to providing security-related equipment for the capacity building of the Pakistani law-enforcement agencies.

To speed up the investigations into the crimes involving Chinese nationals, it had been decided the National Forensic Science Agency (NFSA) would be built on modern lines.

The Pakistani side requested China's support for a full upgrade of the National Forensic Science Lab in Islamabad. The Chinese side assured their full support for the purpose, according to the draft minutes.

The Chinese side has also committed that it would establish a training centre for the private security guards and law enforcement agency personnel to equip them with modern techniques and modules.

With recurring attacks on its workers, China had even asked Pakistan to let its security personnel protect the Chinese nationals, according to sources.

In view of increasing incidents of terrorism, involving the non-corridor projects, Pakistan had proposed the establishment of a separate joint working group for coordination on security efforts.

But it was mutually decided that a Joint Technical Expert Working Group (JTEWG) would be established for the security of non-CPEC projects. The JTEWG would evaluate the services of private security companies.

The draft minutes suggested that Pakistan had not been able to achieve its goal to fast-track the work on some of the CPEC energy projects, although it once again committed “to maintain the tax and tariff policies stable”.

The draft document stated that financial closure would remain dependent on clearance by a Chinese insurance company that was suffering badly due to non-payment of energy dues by Pakistan.

China has not backed out from its demand that Pakistan should timely clear the outstanding dues and set up a revolving bank account.

“The Chinese side appreciated the efforts made by the Pakistani side to fully pay the tariff of the CPEC energy projects in a timely manner and hoped for a further increase in the tariff settlement ratio to ensure repayment of the bank loan and normal operation of the CPEC energy projects”, according to the draft minutes.