Beijing: As a new generation of leaders is set to assume power in China, an influential state-run daily on Monday highlighted anti-China protests in Pakistan, regarded as an "all-weather ally" of Beijing and blamed Pakistani media for stoking anti-China feelings.
Written by a Pakistani scholar, an article in the Global Times said the recent protests in Karachi against the development of a mega city project funded by Chinese companies is "being highlighted as a symbol of anti-China sentiments inside Pakistan". "However, the reality is entirely different from what is being portrayed in media reports," the article said.
"Unfortunately, it is all being portrayed wrongly in the media. There are few people who are against Chinese investment in Pakistan, and they don't have a say in decision-making arenas," it said.
The writer wrote that the number of protesters was no more than 200, while the overall population of Sindh Province is more than 40 million, contending that the protesters were not representing the majority of the population. "Had there been any anti-China sentiments, there would have been a bigger crowd," it said.
The criticism was mainly because the locals were concerned that they may not get enough opportunities. The rare article about anti-China protests were carried by Global Times coinciding with the ongoing Congress of the ruling Communist Party during which a new set of leaders to succeed President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are to be selected.
Pakistan-China relations are routinely described as "all weather friends" and it was rare for Chinese media to carry out any articles critical of the relationship. "From any angle, it is not an expression of anti-China sentiment... Trying to attach an international dimension to the issue is nothing more than creating media sensationalism," it said.
China, Pakistan's largest trade partner, is carrying out several development projects inside Pakistan, including some mega-projects, including roads, overhead bridges, ports, and other infrastructure. "Pakistani people as well as the people of Sindh themselves harbour no anti-China sentiments. On the contrary, they consider China as their best friend.
"In addition to that, one can see several Chinese people in various cities of Pakistan and none of them would complain about their safety or security... For them, Pakistan is like their second home," it said.
Similarly, the people protesting in Sindh and Balochistan are basically against the government policies, and not necessarily against China, it said. "The writers have tried to malign a Chinese company's decision to pull out of the Thar coal project. First of all, the project was not given to any company, and the bidding process is still on hold. Second, there exists not even a single insurgent movement in the Thar region of Sindh.
"There has never been a movement of this kind, let alone one of an anti-Chinese nature," it said. "In conclusion, the hopes of Sindhi nationalists getting any American support need to be analysed. Sindhi nationalists would never do that, because Sindhis of the country would never support any external interference in Pakistan," it said.