Chinese and Pakistani workers work on the construction of a solar power station in Punjab, Pakistan. (COURTESY OF MCC)
New Delhi: The Chinese government, which has already invested billions of dollars in Pakistan, is extremely unhappy with Pakistan’s “mishandling” of the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of which employees of Chinese PSUs stationed in Pakistan are facing “psychological stress” and “mental health problems”, internal communication documents exclusively seen by The Sunday Guardian have revealed. As a result, Chinese workers stationed in Pakistan are increasingly resorting to violent measures while demanding that they should be allowed to go back to their homes.
The communication also reveals how Chinese PSUs are adopting a “segregation” policy when it comes to Chinese employees and local Pakistani employees.
In one such security related communication sent on 7 July by Zhang Wanjie, the security advisor to Pakistan’s unit of Bureau of Geophysical Prospecting (BGP) which is a part of the China National Petroleum Corporation, China’s largest oil and gas pipeline contractor and operator, to his China-based headquarters, he has severally criticised the way Pakistan government has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, while adding that the people of Pakistan are “not following even the standard procedures and lacked awareness about basic hygiene”.
As per Wanjie’s detailed report, seen by The Sunday Guardian, there are seven units of BGP having 87 employees that are active in various projects inside Pakistan. The report also contains the contingency plan that BGP is using to keep its Chinese citizens safe in Pakistan.
The contingency plan includes keeping the Chinese and Pakistan employees separately in isolation, storing food for at least two months and setting up a counselling facility for the Chinese employees who are under “a lot of stress”.
Similarly, China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), which is a subsidiary of the state-owned China communication constructions company and is involved in many CPEC projects including the Pakistan-China Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar, is facing massive problems in managing the Chinese workers stationed and engaged in various projects due to the pandemic situation.
The Chinese Communist Party Committee, of the CHEC, in a notification issued on 10 July, had to ask their colleagues who are stationed in Pakistan to maintain stability and work peacefully.
As per the notification, seen by The Sunday Guardian, there have been instances in the recent past where Chinese workers have indulged in mass protests, strikes, roadblocks and visiting the Chinese embassy and consulate in Pakistan in view of the problems that they are facing in Pakistan which has led to a “negative” impact on the smooth implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the region.
A similar report sent to Beijing by Petrochina, which is a Chinese oil and gas company and a listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, states that due to “weak government control” the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pakistan is likely to cross 1 million by the end of July.
This report too has stated that despite the severity of the pandemic, the people of Pakistan were not following standard procedures, there is little awareness of how to control Covid-19 and no one was adhering to social distancing or wearing masks.
The report has further stated that Petrochina has taken measures to save itself which includes stopping Chinese personnel from going out, prohibiting Pakistani employees into its compound, building separate offices for Chinese and Pakistani employees, a separate meal areas and also “reserving a certain amount of Covid-19 drugs for any emergency”, while adding that the shortage of medical resources and supplies in Pakistan has made the prevention and control of the diseases difficult.