ISLAMABAD - Pakistan says a Chinese couple recently murdered by suspected Islamic State loyalists in southwestern Baluchistan province were preaching Christianity under the guise of doing business in the country.
The slain Chinese nationals were kidnapped at gunpoint late last month from the provincial capital, Quetta. There were no claims of responsibility until Thursday when IS, through its global mouthpiece the Amaq News Agency, claimed executing the hostages.
The kidnappers later released video footage showing the bloodied body of the Chinese man, Lee Zing Yang, taking his last breaths. Pakistani authorities swiftly evacuated 11 Chinese nationals from Quetta following the incident.
On Monday, Pakistani interior minister Nisar Ali Khan chaired a high-level meeting in the wake of the “unfortunate” incident and directed authorities to review the process of issuance of visas to Chinese nationals, according to an official statement.
It said a group of Chinese citizens, including the slain couple, had entered Pakistan on business visas, but “instead of engaging in any business activity they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning Urdu language ... were actually engaged in preaching.”
The statement added that a Korean national, Juan Won Seo, who runs an information technology-related company in the provincial capital was hosting the Chinese group.
Misuse of visa ‘highly unfortunate’
Minister Khan “observed that it is highly unfortunate that a misuse of the terms of a business visa contributed to the unfortunate incident of abduction and subsequent murder of two innocent Chinese.”
He also directed authorities to gather information about Chinese nationals in Pakistan and establish a database to enable security institutions to ensure their protection, according to the statement.
China is investing nearly $60 billion in Pakistan to help build infrastructure projects, including road and rail links as well as power plants. Baluchistan is at the center of the mega cooperation dubbed as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC.
A provincial government spokesman, Anwar-ul Haq Kakar, told VOA authorities have beefed up security measures after stepped up militant attacks in his province. He dismissed suggestions the violence has raised concerns in China.
“A major portion, or at least 99 percent of the projects related to CPEC are quite secure and they are protected. There is a level of satisfaction over there [in China] by whatever measures are taken [by the] Pakistan government for the security and protection of their nationals,” noted Kakar.
Thousands of Chinese have moved to Pakistan in recent years and there are reportedly more than 400,000 Chinese in the country, with a majority of them involved in private business activities.
The capital, Islamabad, hosts an estimated 25,000 Chinese nationals who are increasingly visible in central markets running a variety of businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants and pet clinics.