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China asks Pakistan to further upgrade security of CPEC projects, Chinese workers

Islamabad, Sep 24 (PTI) China has asked Pakistan to further upgrade the security of Chinese personnel and projects under the bilateral economic corridor in the country, a media report said on Friday.

The Chinese demand came after the July 14 bus blast in Pakistan''s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in which 13 people, including nine Chinese personnel, were killed.

Pakistan''s Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, speaking to the press after co-chairing the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said both sides agreed to “arrest those guilty of heinous crime and get them sentenced by courts at the earliest†, the Dawn newspaper reported.

On July 14, a bus carrying Chinese engineers and construction workers exploded before falling into a deep ravine in Dasu area of Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Chinese nationals were engaged in building a dam, which is part of the USD 60 billion CCPEC.

At least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals and two Frontier Corps soldiers, died and 39 others were injured.

China termed the incident "a bomb attack". So far, it is not clear if the blast was caused by a technical failure or the vehicle was hit by an explosion.

Vice chairman of National Development and Reform Commission, China, Ning Jizhe co-chaired the meeting on Friday.

The JCC -- mandated to convene twice every year -- had not met after November 2019 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

China and Pakistan mutually agreed to raise the security of CPEC projects and Chinese workers in the country, the Dawn quoted Minister Umar as saying.

The minister said since the bus blast work at the Dasu Hydroelectric project site had stalled, adding that the project was no longer part of the CPEC.

Acknowledging the Chinese side''s request for security, Umar said Pakistan realises that the scope of projects being handled between the two countries was increasing and so security needs to be upgraded as well.

Meanwhile, the "iron brothers" decided to keep tariff and tax policies unchanged in the power sector.

The CPEC connecting China''s resource-rich Xinjiang province with Pakistan''s strategic Gwadar port in Balochistan is regarded as the flagship project of the multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative, the pet scheme of Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at furthering China''s influence globally with Chinese funded infrastructure projects. In addition to the CPEC, China has invested in more than 200 projects in Pakistan.

India has objected to the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. PTI IND AKJ IND


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