China needs to be wary of security risks along Belt, Road

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/10 22:43:39

The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan warned last week of "a series of terrorist attacks" on Chinese targets there. From a car bomb attack on the Chinese Embassy in Kyrgyzstan in 2016 to two Chinese being kidnapped and killed in Pakistan this year, assaults against Chinese overseas organizations and personnel have seen an upward trend.

With the advance in China's Belt and Road initiative, for instance, the Gwadar Port being put into service and the construction of China-Laos high-speed railway, China is enjoying a greater influence in countries along the route. Raiding Chinese targets has become an effective way for local anti-government and extreme factions to gain attention. Some external forces may also get involved over strategic concerns. Take Laos for example. The country, which used to be stable and peaceful, has seen several security incidents in the wake of the construction of the high-speed rail.

The backflow of Islamist State (IS) terrorists also threatens the security of Chinese enterprises overseas. A number of countries announced earlier that the IS has already been defeated. But being "defeated" doesn't mean they have been "completely vanquished." The scattered forces are likely to flow to other places from Syria and Iraq. Some South Asian and Southeast Asian countries lack the experience and ability to fight terrorism, and have thus become popular destinations for IS terrorists, posing a huge security risk to Chinese infrastructure projects, institutions and nationals.

Therefore, it is imperative for China to beef up security for its overseas citizens and enterprises. The Chinese government can set up a comprehensive alert mechanism and strengthen security ties with countries along the route. Islamabad has promised a 15,000-man army division to protect projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Better intelligence sharing and joint drills between China and relevant states are instrumental for the safety of Chinese projects overseas.

An increase in security input by Chinese enterprises is more important. It has to be admitted that Chinese security service firms still lag far behind their foreign counterparts in scale and professionalism. More efforts should be put to enhance their services, technology, management, information sharing, hardware, and software facilities to achieve world class status. Chinese overseas branches should also improve security training.

China's knowledge of the security situation in certain countries along the route of the Belt and Road initiative is far from perfect as well. Chinese think tanks should spend more efforts conducting research and recommend measures and countermeasures for Chinese firms to safeguard the interests of Chinese projects and nationals overseas.



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