Pakistan: a Chinese colony By Dr Ejaz Hussain

There are many who are critical of CPEC, arguing that it is China’s plan to colonise Pakistan

China-Pakistan relations are simple and complicated at the same time. Though Pakistan became the first country to recognise communist China, the latter was more interested in India in the 1950s. It was the 1962 Indo-China war that brought China closer to Pakistan in terms of settling the border. Moreover, the 1965 India-Pakistan war brought Pakistan even closer to China. Pakistan got weapons from Beijing and the latter benefited economically. Noticeably, during the 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars, China did not come forth to side with Pakistan militarily but did diplomatically.
Indeed, Beijing never remained in a position nor was it willing to fight Pakistan’s wars. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s fractured relations with the United States enhanced its military, and now it is very dependent on China. With abject poverty and socio-economic instability emanating from our flawed policies, it makes sense to find investment and business opportunities that could prevent economic downfall. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) falls in the foregoing category. In my earlier research, I tried to assess, based on primary data, the structural and strategic sustainability of CPEC. I was convinced that CPEC is a wonderful opportunity that the Pakistani authorities should deliberate comprehensively. Issues related to its transparency and terms and conditions, such as rate of return, must be negotiated meaningfully.
Nevertheless, as predicted in one of my academic articles, CPEC is now in its second phase where industrial zones have been proposed and the work on infrastructure is ongoing. With intensification of infrastructural development such as construction of motorways in parts of Pakistan, the security aspect of the Corridor has assumed added significance. In this respect, the provincial and federal government have raised ‘special forces’ from among the police and the army. Given the incidence of intermittent terrorism, Pakistan seems very protective of the Chinese workforce. The Chinese state, on its part, also seems overprotective of its nationals working in various capacities in this country. In the wake of the killing of two Chinese missionaries near Quetta in 2017 and the death of another in Karachi early this year, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad issued a security alert for all its citizens residing and working in Pakistan.
Since then the Pakistani side has taken measures to prevent such incidents in the future. In addition, as per investigation, the Chinese couple killed in Quetta moved on its own and that too in a ubiquities manner in a highly sensitive area. The one who got killed in Karachi was reportedly involved in bank theft. Indeed, certain Chinese nationals were caught red-handed in an ATM theft in Karachi and Islamabad. In addition, there are cases of Chinese nationals, including women scuffling, for example, with Pakistani shopkeepers. A simple Google or YouTube search will prove this.
To add insult to injury, the other day, a number of Chinese workers were filmed while assaulting certain personnel of the police that were stationed there in Noor Pur camp (Khanewal, Punjab) to provide security to these Chinese nationals. The video of this shameful incident went viral on social media. At one point during the scuffle with the police, the country project manager, Xu Libing, stood arrogantly on the bonnet of the police van with the Pakistani flag visible beside his joggers and shorts. Personally, I felt bad, humiliated and infuriated since we, as a nation, have acknowledged our brotherly friendship with China as being ‘higher than mountains’.
All Chinese nationals who fail to respect Pakistani law and government employees need to be taken to task
Alas, it fell deep down into the canyon of egoistic arrogance and anger of the aforementioned Chinese workers. Noticeably, this is the second such incident in the same region. Furthermore, these Chinese workers have been found to be in violation of various Pakistani laws according to police reports. The police high-ups have termed five Chinese workers as ‘persona non grata’ and recommended their expulsion from Pakistan. Reportedly, the incident occurred due to the non-compliance of the Chinese workers who, reportedly, wanted to be on their own so they could rendezvous with local prostitutes.
This incident has been widely cited by CPEC sceptics, who argue that it is China’s plan to colonise Pakistan. Indeed, many in my circle viewed the project negatively. One of my students said, “The party has just started. See what comes next.” Another shared on my Facebook page that “Pakistan’s sovereignty lies under the feet of the [Chinese] guy who sternly stood on the [police] van”. Then there were those who felt jubilant over the fate of the police as the latter, in their view, is corrupt and serves as tool for a landed feudals and politicians. In my conversation on a We Chat Chinese-Pakistani group, a Chinese scholar on Pakistan blamed the (social) media, India and the US for exploiting the incident. In his view, such police-civilian scuffle is a routine in China. I tend to disagree with all these opinions. First, not every Pakistani policeman is corrupt. Indeed, the police is an integral part of law enforcement and state institutions. Its role cannot be demoted. Secondly, the police’s interaction with civilians can get messy in any country. The point is, how many times has a Pakistani beat the Chinese police in China? Thirdly, it is not the first such incident.
In order to put an end to such insulting and humiliating incidents, it is urgently necessary on the part of Pakistan to expel individuals who do not respect Pakistani law or the uniforms of state employees. If Pakistan does not take due measures today, this will only invite more incidents like this. Being blinded by sheer arrogance and a sense of superiority, the Chinese may one day scuffle with the army too, which also provides Chinese nationals with security. Lastly, if CPEC is not negotiated rationally and managed intelligently, and if Pakistan continues to enhance its dependency on Chinese weapons, capital, technology and workforce, the testable notions of the colonisation of Pakistan will get sufficient data in the years to come.
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