Deputy Chief of Mission at Chinese embassy in Islamabad Zhao Lijian created controversy over asking questions about former Senator Sanaullah Baloch’s “blood”?
Mr. Baloch has been a fierce critic of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project that both countries claim would bring an economic revolution in the region. The people of Balochistan, however, think it would change the demographics of their land, from where the project is to originate.
Thousands of locals have been forced to migrate to give way to the CPEC routes that link China to the Gwadar deep sea port.
On 14 October, replying to one of Mr. Baloch’s tweets, Mr. Lijian posted:
The war of words began when Mr. Lijian tweeted on the opening of a school in Gwadar under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC).
Mr. Baloch responded: “Would you like to give Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to #Japan if they offer to build an (sic) university in #China? Than (sic) why #Gwadar just for a school?
Mr. Linjian tweet back:
Mr. Lijian also told Mr. Baloch: “Chinese are here to help Gwadar to develop. Are you Pakistani in blood? Are you against development in Gwadar in blood?”
Mr. Baloch responded:
Mr. Linjian’s tweet labeling Mr. Baloch as anti-development , journalists, politicians and activists lambasted at the Chinese deputy head of mission.
Columnist Mohammad Taqi posted:
Salma Jaffar, an activist and development consultant, said:
Senior Vice-President of the Awami National Party, Former Senator, Bushra Gohar tweeted:
Mohammad Ali Talpur, columnist and rights activist, tweeted:
Mr Baloch himself quipped:
The Chinese diplomat had to delete his tweet question about Mr. Baloch’s “blood” as criticism poured in from different circles.
Mr. Baloch is vocal on the CPEC’s dark side for Balochistan. In his latest piece on 4 October under titled ‘CPEC: A Baloch Perspective’, Mr. Baloch wrote
“This ambiguous nature of the CPEC has created more alienation than unification. So much fear has been created that none of the media persons or researchers living inside Balochistan dare write or talk about the CPEC.
The entire provincial government has no convincing data to prove what the CPEC has for Balochistan.
We need to be honest with ourselves – that China needed Gwadar and in return we got a multibillion dollar infrastructure, metro line, eastern route and motorways and energy projects that will be focused in particular part of Pakistan.”
Shah Meer Baloch is a freelance writer and fellow of the Swedish Institute/SI, Stockholm (Sweden) and the Institute for Foreign and Cultural Relations (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen/IFA), Stuttgart (Germany). He graduated from the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad (Pakistan) in International Relations. His research focus is on South Asian politics, Balochistan issues, extremism and human rights. He is from Pasni, district Gwadar.