Chinese media blames Korean preachers for murder of 2 nationals in Pakistan
Islamic State claimed the killings but Chinese state media says the deaths could be the fallout of a conflict between South Korean Christian missionaries and terrorists in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.world Updated: Jun 14, 2017 10:02 IST
China’s state media and Islamabad have blamed South Korean missionaries for the abduction and murder of two Chinese nationals in Pakistan, accusing them of misguiding the duo into preaching Christianity in a region influenced by radical Islam.
In the new narrative, the Chinese media just stops short of blaming the two for their own deaths though Islamic State claimed the killings last week.
The state media has also criticised the “Indian and western media” for exaggerating the impact of the murders on China-Pakistan relations.
“They aim at badmouthing and disrupting China-Pakistan economic cooperation by linking the terror act caused by religious conflict to the political and economic cooperation between the two countries,” said an editorial in the nationalistic Global Times tabloid.
Pakistan’s interior ministry on Monday identified the murdered Chinese as Lee Zingyang, 24, and Meng Lisi, 26 – the first piece of information released about the two who were abducted from Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province, on May 24.
Though Lee and Meng entered Pakistan on business visas, they were “engaged in preaching” in Quetta, Pakistan said.
“Instead of engaging in any business activity, they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning (the) Urdu language from a Korean national (and) were actually engaged in preaching,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
The effort, both by Pakistani officials and Chinese media, it seemed, was to all but absolve the security apparatus for failing to save the lives of the young Chinese nationals.
The murders caused alarm in the growing Chinese community in Pakistan, which is central to the Beijing’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative. The centrepiece of the new Silk Route plan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, passes through insurgency-hit Balochistan.
The Pakistani interior ministry’s statement didn’t say if the Korean was from North or South Korea but Chinese media was quick to blame South Korean preachers.
The editorial in the Global Times said the killings were likely the outcome of a “conflict between South Korean missionary agencies and local terrorists”.
“The atrocity committed by Islamic State is appalling. But it cannot drive a wedge between China and Pakistan, nor will the construction of the CPEC be disrupted,” the editorial said, adding the murdered Chinese nationals were not associated with the CPEC.
The Global Times warned in another article that China could become entangled in overseas terrorism as “South Korean missionaries are allegedly recruiting Chinese people to preach in Muslim countries”.
Yet another report in Chinese alleged the kidnapped man and woman were part of a group of 13 Chinese nationals brought to Quetta in November last year by a South Korean who runs a school named “ARK”.
“While the school purports to be focused around teaching Urdu to young people, the report claims that its language education is merely a front for conducting religious activities,” the Shanghaiist website quoted the report as saying.
The Global Times also reported experts were concerned about South Korean Christian groups proselytising people in atheist China and Muslim countries, “where such activities are forbidden and may even result in death sentences”.
“Apart from recruiting young people in China, South Korean missionaries send teenagers to conduct missionary activities in Muslim countries, and compared to Chinese, more South Koreans have been killed abroad due to risky missionary activities in conservative Islamic regions,” the tabloid quoted an unnamed university student as saying. The student, it reported, had participated in several South Korean underground missionary events.
“Some Chinese voluntarily join in the dangerous missionary activities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq after being converted by South Koreans,” the student said.
But the incident will not impact the “iron friendship” between China and Pakistan, the state media said.