China defends its alliance with Pakistan after consulate attack

  • China has stood by its alliance with Pakistan after a terror attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last week.
  • Chinese civilians have donated to the families of Pakistani security officers who died during the attack, a Chinese official in Islamabad said.
  • The Balochistan Liberation Army, one of many Pakistani voices critical of Chinese projects in the country, claimed to be behind the violence.
Pakistani security forces outside the Chinese consulate in Karachi after an armed attack.
Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Pakistani security forces outside the Chinese consulate in Karachi after an armed attack.

China has stood by its strategic relationship with Pakistan, reiterating its strong ties with the South Asian nation after armed militants stormed the Chinese consulate in Karachi on Friday.

The bilateral alliance is "higher than (the) mountains and deeper than (the) sea," Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, said on Twitter days after the terror attack. "The friendship has never been empty talks, but deeply imprinted in hearts of Chinese and Pakistani people," Zhao said, noting how Chinese civilians made donations to the families of Pakistani security officers who died on Friday.

Meanwhile, social media users in China expressed their respect and admiration for a female Pakistani police officer, Suhai Aziz Talpur, who was part of a team that killed Friday's assailants.

The incident claimed the lives of four Pakistanis. A statement from the Chinese embassy in Islamabad confirmed on Friday that no Chinese citizens were killed or injured. The Balochistan Liberation Army, one of many Pakistani voices critical of Chinese projects in the country, claimed to be behind the violence.

"China is exploiting our resources," a spokesman for the BLA, considered a terrorist organization by Islamabad and Washington, told Reuters.

The $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — a network of transport, energy, industrial and agricultural projects that runs from the Pakistani city of Gwadar to the Chinese region of Xinjiang — is a sensitive issue in the Islamic republic. The CPEC is a crucial element of Chinese President Xi Jinping's broader Belt and Road Initiative, a continent-spanning system of trade and infrastructure links.

But groups like the BLA are wary of regional natural resources being exploited by the Pakistani government and its allies such as Beijing. The BLA seeks greater regional autonomy from the federal government and has long demanded fair revenue from provincial projects.

The organization has already launched several attacks on Chinese-linked projects this year, including an August suicide attack on a bus carrying Chinese engineers who were working on a Balochistan mining venture.

Beijing, however, appeared unfazed by these security concerns.

"We believe that the Pakistani side is able to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan," the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement. "Any attempt to undermine China-Pakistan relationship is doomed to fail."

Beijing is one of Islamabad's closest allies and a major investor, having loaned the South Asian nation around $4 billion in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to multiple reports. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, however, is in need of more external financing.

Following Khan's visit to China early this month, Beijing said more talks were needed before it can dole out further assistance.