BEIJING • China has warned its nationals in Pakistan of plans for a series of imminent "terrorist attacks" on Chinese targets there, an unusual alert as it pours funds into infrastructure projects in a country plagued by militancy.
Thousands of Chinese workers have gone to Pakistan following Beijing's pledge to spend US$57 billion (S$77 billion) there on projects in President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road development plan, which aims to link China with the Middle East and Europe.
Protecting employees of Chinese firms, and entrepreneurs who have followed the investment wave along the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has been a concern for Chinese officials.
"It is understood that terrorists plan in the near term to launch a series of attacks against Chinese organisations and personnel in Pakistan," the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan said in a statement on its website yesterday.
It warned all "Chinese-invested organisations and Chinese citizens to increase security awareness, strengthen internal precautions, reduce trips outside as much as possible, and avoid crowded public spaces". It also asked Chinese citizens to cooperate with Pakistan's police and military, and alert the embassy in the event of an emergency.
It did not give any further details.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry could not be reached for comment.
China has long worried about disaffected members of its Uighur Muslim minority in the far western Xinjiang region linking up with militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Violence in Pakistan's south-western Baluchistan province has also fuelled concern over security for transport and energy links from China to Pakistan's Gwadar port.
The Taleban, sectarian groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) all operate in Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan and is at the centre of the Belt and Road initiative. Separatists there have also long battled the government for a greater share of gas and mineral resources, and have attacked energy and other infrastructure projects.
ISIS claimed responsibility for killing two kidnapped Chinese teachers in Baluchistan in June, prompting the government in Islamabad to pledge to beef up security for Chinese nationals.
China's security concerns have grown along with its global commercial footprint. Last year, a suspected suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the Chinese Embassy in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, killing the attacker and injuring at least three people.