In two separate incidents on July 14 and 17, Chinese nationals working on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Pakistan and Mali were attacked. Among them, nine Chinese nationals in Pakistan died, and three in Mali were kidnapped.
According to Dawn, a local news network in Pakistan, on July 14, a bus full of laborers on its way to a local construction site, exploded and fell into a ravine killing 13 and injuring 28. Among the 13 killed, nine were Chinese nationals. They were heading towards the site of a tunnel being built as part of the 4300-megawatt Dasu hydropower project called the Dasu Dam.
Dasu is about 217.5 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The Dasu hydropower project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a critical component of the CCP’s BRI. Its $65 billion investment plan includes building a road from Xinjiang, China, directly to the Indian Ocean in southern Pakistan and installing oil pipelines.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs initially called the incident a mechanical failure but later found traces of explosives. Based on the Pakistani report, the CCP believed that it was a terrorist attack on Chinese nationals and sent a 15-member team, that included criminal investigators, to Pakistan to participate in the probe.
Concurrently, according to Agence France-Presse, an international news agency, the Malian Armed Forces reported that armed men attacked a Chinese construction site in Kwala, a town in Mali, on July 17 and kidnapped three Chinese nationals and two Mauritanians.
The Malian military said the militants also damaged cranes and dump trucks owned by China Overseas Engineering Group (Covec) and Mauritanian road-building company ATTM. No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack and kidnapping.
Mali also signed onto the CCP’s BRI. Covec is one of China’s major firms undertaking the construction of Belt and Road projects outside China.
Shi Shan, an independent analyst in the United States, suggested that the explosion in Pakistan may have something to do with the locals’ dissatisfaction with the BRI construction project. Shi told the Epoch Times that building the 4300-megawatt Dasu Dam would flood many lands nearby, affect communities near the rivers and valleys, and force them to relocate.
The specifics are still unknown in regards to the kidnapping in Mali. “Chinese companies don’t hire foreign locals to work on their projects; they don’t provide job opportunities to the local communities,” Shi said. “Many similar incidents have happened before, and there may be more to come.”