The Chinese and Pakistani flags, ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Pakistan in April.
The Chinese and Pakistani flags, ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Pakistan in April.

Story highlights

The two Chinese nationals were kidnapped last month and killed

Protecting the 20,000 Chinese residing in Pakistan is posing a challenge

CNN —  

Two slain Chinese nationals who were kidnapped in Pakistan in May and whose deaths ISIS has claimed responsibility for had been missionaries and the “misuse” of their business visas contributed to their abductions and deaths, Pakistan’s interior minister said.

Amid “deep concern over the unfortunate incident,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday ordered a review of its visa policies and called for the establishment of a database of Chinese nationals.

The man, 24, and woman, 26, killed were among a group of Chinese citizens who obtained a business visa from the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, the ministry statement said.

Instead of doing business, it is alleged the pair went to the Pakistani city of Quetta and under the guise of learning Urdu from a Korean, they “engaged in preaching,” the Pakistani statement said.

The statement did not elaborate on what kind of preaching the two were engaged in.

“Ensuring the security of foreign nationals is a shared responsibility,” according to the Interior Ministry statement.

“Where the government makes every effort to provide security to foreigners, the visiting foreign nationals are equally bound to abide by the terms and conditions of their visas and inform local authorities about their movements and activities keeping in view the security requirements, if any.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a social media post discussing the story, the People’s Daily newspaper, the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, said Friday that China was the biggest target market for South Korean missionaries and urged people “to cover their souls.”

It is not known whether the two Chinese nationals had been accompanied in Pakistan by Korean Christians.

Kidnapped in Quetta

The man, 24, and woman, 26, were kidnapped by armed men on May 24 from the city of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, a senior security officer told CNN. The official said they were on their way to teach a Chinese language class.

Amaq, a news agency affiliated with ISIS, said Thursday that Islamic State fighters had killed two Chinese teachers who were being held in the Mastung, Balochistan. The group also released a video, which showed two bodies shot and bleeding on some grassy ground.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, said at a regular press briefing that Pakistan had said that the two kidnapped Chinese were likely dead, adding that the ministry was trying to get more details.

The Ministry, in a statement earlier on Friday, said that “China resolutely opposes all forms of kidnapping of civilians and opposes all forms of terrorism and extreme acts of violence.”

Khan directed Interior Ministry “to review, regulate and streamline the process of issuance of visas to Chinese nationals coming to Pakistan for various projects,” the statement said.

Khan also noted an occasional “laxity” of Pakistani missions in granting visas and added that there needs to be a database of Chinese nationals and to regulate the process of granting visa extensions, according to the statement.

Security challenges

Pakistan is home to roughly 20,000 Chinese nationals, according to Mustafa Hyder, chief executive of the Pakistan-China Institute.

Chinese nationals have settled in Pakistan in greater numbers since the announcement of a $46 billion investment plan known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015 – part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Protecting those nationals has become a challenge.

Quetta is in Balochistan province,home to the Gwador Port Complex, a flagship project of the economic corridor. It has been plagued by violence from the Pakistan Taliban, a separatist movement and other groups.

The corridor includes a range of infrastructure projects – road networks, a fiber optic cable project, railway lines, a deep-sea port, coal mines and solar farms, and it’s seen as a huge opportunity by Pakistan to develop its economy.

CNN’s Serenitie Wang in Beijing contributed to this report