Beijing, Jul 19 (PTI) China on Monday declined to comment on speculation that Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Beijing for an emergency briefing on a recent deadly bomb blast targeting Chinese workers in the country's northwest but said the two countries are sure to find out the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice.
During a media briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian parried questions about rumours of Qureshi’s unannounced visit to Beijing on Sunday 'for some kind of briefing', saying he has 'no information to offer'.
China had rushed a special team to Pakistan to probe the July 14 blast in a shuttle bus in which 13 people, including nine Chinese engineers, were killed in Dasu area of Upper Kohistan district of the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where a Chinese company is building a 4320-mw dam on the Indus river.
Differing perceptions between the two close allies whether it was a terrorist attack or a gas explosion that hit the vehicle also added to Beijing’s anxieties.
Islamabad initially attributed the incident, which resulted in highest number of Chinese casualties in Pakistan so far, to a gas explosion but reversed it later and backed China’s assertion that it was a bomb blast stating that traces of explosives were found. 'China is highly concerned and strongly condemns the bus accident in Pakistan on July 14. The explosion is currently under investigation. A cross-departmental Joint Working Group of China is working intensively with the Pakistani side in the relevant work. China and Pakistan are sure to find out the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice,' Zhao said.
Observers say that the uneasy Islamabad-Kabul ties over Pakistan’s close relationship with the Taliban were exasperated by the bus bomb blast in Dasu which had caught Beijing totally unawares.
In his media briefing, Zhao also denied reports that the Dasu power project was part of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
'There are still many people who believe that the Dasu project is under the CPEC. I can clarify here that this project is not under the framework of CPEC, but it is an economic cooperation project between China and Pakistan,” he said.
He also said the work at the project has been halted after the bus blast and denied that the Pakistani employees working at the project site were terminated over security concerns.
'In fact, this problem did not exist. After the blast, the construction (of the project) was put to a halt, with efforts put to the treatment of the wounded and other follow up measures, including more efforts' to find out the security loopholes and strengthen the protection measures, Zhao said.
'The project will resume when conditions are ready. The contracts of the Pakistani workers were not terminated, they are still working,” he said.
Playing down the bus blast incident, Zhao said, 'this was an isolated case. China believes that Pakistan is fully capable of ensuring the safety of Chinese personnel in Pakistan, and the safety of Chinese assets in Pakistan”.
About the progress of the probe into the bus blast incident, Zhao said “the relevant departments in Pakistan are looking into the incident and have briefed China on the initial investigation”.
Technical experts have jointly inspected the scene and the case is undergoing further investigation, he said, adding that 27 Chinese personnel who were wounded in the blast received “the best medical treatment” in Pakistan.
One severely wounded has received brain surgery and is under medical observation.
China is concerned about the safety of thousands of its workers who are working in different projects of the CPEC which connects China’s Xinjiang province with the Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
The projects have sparked resentment, particularly among separatist groups who say there have been few benefits for local people.
There have been previous attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan, including a deadly suicide blast in April at a luxury hotel in Balochistan where the Chinese ambassador was staying for which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. The envoy was not present at the hotel at that time. PTI KJV ZH AKJ ZH ZH