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BRI Newsletter Aug. 13. 2021

On July 13th, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Pakistani government had “launched a rare dialogue with separatists opposing China’s Belt and Road Initiative”. This move is made in response to a growing number of attacks on government installations and security forces in the first half of 2021, and in anticipation of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which analysts expect will increase instability which could lead to even more attacks. On July 14th, a bus explosion in Pakistan killed 13 people, including 9 Chinese workers on their way to the construction site of the Dasu hydropower plant. This explosion is not the first occasion of an attack on Chinese workers and interests in Pakistan (attacks in 2018 on the Chinese consulate in Karachi and on a Gwadar hotel used by Chinese nationals and the 2020 attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange are other examples), but it does underscore the necessity for the Pakistani government to negotiate with groups opposing the BRI if it wants to successfully continue the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the construction on the Dasu hydropower dam is suspended and the Chinese government also postponed an important CPEC meeting that was scheduled to be held a few days after the attack. Both the Pakistani and the Chinese government want BRI projects in Pakistan to succeed, but how the Initiative develops in Pakistan will also depend on the security on the ground and the ability of the Pakistani government to ensure a safer environment. by Vera Kranenburg from Clingendael Institute

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