28 January 2018
Chinese engineer Pingzhi Liu went missing almost a month ago. It took Pakistani authorities three weeks to classify Liu’s disappearance as a probable kidnapping that could have significant political and economic consequences. Identifying the mysterious disappearance as a kidnapping is not only embarrassing because Liu was one of thousands of Chinese working in Pakistan who are guarded by a specially created 15,000-man Pakistani military unit. It is also awkward because it coincides with apparent Chinese questioning of aspects of the US$56 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a crown jewel of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, and increasingly strained relations between Pakistan and the United States.
Liu, 36, was accorded military protection even though his project, the Karot Hydropower Plant, located near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, is not part of CPEC. Karot was the first project financed by China’s state-owned US$40 billion Silk Road fund, established in 2014 by President Xi Jinping to foster increased investment in Eurasia. Liu went missing on December 20 while on night duty. He was last seen walking out of a tunnel at about 3.30am while talking on his phone. No claim for his potential kidnapping or ransom has been made.
… James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 30/01/2018