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Now, China says citizens killed in Pakistan could have violated local customs

The Chinese statement came after South Korea rejected claims that the two murdered Chinese nationals were involved with a Christian missionary group.

world Updated: Jun 17, 2017 11:14 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
South Korean diplomat,spokesperson Lu Kang,ministry of foreign affairs
File photo of Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang.(Reuters)

China said on Friday it was cooperating with Pakistan to find out if two of its nationals, who were murdered in Balochistan, had violated local laws and customs in the restive region.

The Chinese statement came two days after South Korea, in an exclusive response to Hindustan Times, rejected claims that Lee Zingyang, 24, and Meng Lisi, 26, were involved with a South Korean missionary group active in Quetta.

China said it was yet to “successfully” verify the antecedents of Lee and Meng as well as 11 other Chinese nationals still in the area. The foreign ministry said it was verifying information about the incident.

“I think that the Indian journalist cited the South Korean diplomat’s words that the government has denied the involvement of South Korea in this incident. We also noted this. Some reports mention that these two Chinese nationals and other 11 Chinese citizens were taken advantage of by the Korean religious group in preaching against the local (Pakistani) customs,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.

Lu said Chinese nationals are advised to follow local law and regulations.

“We have always advised Chinese nationals that they abide by the local laws and regulations in their business activities and tourism overseas. If they did violate the local laws and regulations of Pakistan, we will cooperate with Pakistani government in investigating this,” Lu said.

Responding to a question on whether Lee and Meng were forced to do something unwillingly, Lu said: “We are looking into this matter. We will cooperate with Pakistan in the investigation. We are not qualified to say anything while the investigation is underway.

“We have not successfully verified the conditions of these two Chinese and remaining 11 nationals. So, it is inconvenient for us to offer what we are doing now. Some reports allege that Chinese nationals were taken advantage of by the Korean religious groups. We will just cooperate with Pakistani side in investigation.”

File photo of the two Chinese nationals who were kidnapped from Quetta last month. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing them. ( Twitter )

On Wednesday, South Korea rejected Pakistan’s claim that the two Chinese nationals — abducted and allegedly killed by the Islamic State — were preaching Christianity under the guise of studying Urdu at a school run by a South Korean.

“With regard to the two Chinese confirmed to have been the Islamic State, nothing has so far been found to verify the suspicion that they were involved with a Korean missionary group,” an official from the South Korean foreign ministry said.

“Nevertheless, it is a fact that the two Chinese, along with ten other Chinese, took classes at a local Urdu language school run by a national of the Republic of Korea by the name of Seo,” the official said, using the formal name for South Korea.

There is a discrepancy in the number of Chinese nationals involved in the episode in Balochistan — Beijing says there are 11 who remain in the area, while Seoul says 10.

The incident continues to remain cloaked in mystery, with the Chinese government sharing little information about Lee and Meng.

Chinese state media has all but put the blame on the two. Quoting sources, the nationalistic Global Times tabloid said they were killed because they were preaching Christianity, guided and encouraged by the South Korean.

First Published: Jun 16, 2017 21:13 IST