China condemns terror blast at Pakistan hotel hosting Chinese envoy; 'West hype won't hold back BRI project'
Published: Apr 22, 2021 10:10 PM Updated: Apr 22, 2021 10:11 PM
Fire breaks out at the blast site in Quetta, Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, on April 21, 2021. Three people were killed and 11 others injured when a bomb went off inside the parking area of Serena hotel in Balochistan province Wednesday night, hospital sources said.(Photo: Xinhua)

Fire breaks out at the blast site in Quetta, Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, on April 21, 2021.  Photo: Xinhua

A deadly car bomb explosion that rocked a hotel, supposedly well-fortified, in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province late Wednesday, has become the latest material for some Western media to exploit hours after the tragedy and to hype local resentment against the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the region, citing the facility was hosting Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong.

The explosion took place in the parking area of the only four-star Serena Hotel in the region, which left at least five dead and 12 injured as of press time, according to media reports.  

Local Pakistan officials, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan and the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the Chinese envoy was not present when the tragedy took place, as Nong was leading a delegation on a visit in Quetta.

Following the incident, Nong took to Twitter on Thursday to call his trip to the province an "impressive visit," and said he had held "effective communication with all stakeholders with regard to the SEZ [special economic zone] to secure its development and growth."

There have been no casualty reports of Chinese nationals from the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a routine press conference on Thursday.

Wang said China strongly condemns the terror blast and sent condolences to those affected. 

China believes the ongoing investigation by Pakistan authorities will find out the truth, bring culprits to justice and ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and institutes in Pakistan, the spokesperson stressed.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast. 

Some Western media have painted a different picture, exploiting the tragedy against Chinese BRI projects in the region. For example, The Guardian reported hours after the tragedy that resentment has been fueled by billions of dollars of Chinese money flowing into the region through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - a key part of China's Belt and Road Initiative - which locals say gave them little benefit as most new jobs went to outsiders.

Refuting such reports, Chinese observers pointed out that there are no political forces or rebel groups in Pakistan who identify themselves as anti-China and anti-BRI, and the overwhelming majority of Pakistani civil society is friendly to China.

It is too early to draw a conclusion on whether the attack in Quetta was targeting the Chinese delegation, observers said. They believe that the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the region will and must carry on, as local support overwhelmingly prevails and Beijing will not flinch against any attacks. 

However, the possibility that the local terrorists wanted to create bigger noise by targeting Chinese nationals cannot be ruled out to advance their malicious domestic agenda, observers said.

"Especially in the last few years, some countries have been capitalizing on terrorist forces in the region, including the use of black markets and hiring people to launch terrorist attacks to achieve certain political objectives," Wang Shida, deputy director of the South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania Research Institute of Contemporary International Relations Research Academy of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Wang pointed out that as China's overseas interests continue to expand, more security risks may surface. 

Many Pakistani netizens sent heartfelt prayers and thoughts to those killed and wounded from the incident, while stressing the incident will not weigh on development toward prosperity and the "PakChina friendship."

Local people have also expressed their confidence in the BRI project despite the unexpected explosion in the province, home to the newly expanded Gwadar deepwater port that is key to the multi-billion investment in the BRI flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the region.

Fazal Kareem, a shopkeeper in Quetta, told the Global Times on Thursday that "We are very confident that these terrorists cannot gain from their bad motives and CPEC will grow and move forward with more strength and resilience of people." 

Kareem added that as a friend to Pakistan, China has been trying hard to build the Gwadar port, which will ultimately change the economic situation of the locals for the better, as they will be the first to benefit from the development.