The Baloch people have rejected the Chinese foreign ministry statement claiming that protests in Gwadar are “fake news”. Gwadar is currently in the throes of a mass movement — Gwadar Ko Haq Do — against CPEC and Chinese commercial activities.
In an exclusive interview to India Narrative from London, Jamal Nasir Baloch, Head of Foreign Affairs of the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), said: “No one takes former Chinese diplomat in Pakistan and current Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, seriously who tried to portray the Baloch hatred toward Chinese imperialism as fake news, everyone knows he is the Chinese version of Baghdad Bob”.
Baloch was referring to Zhao’s press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, where the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: “China firmly rejects certain media’s attempts to smear the CPEC building and China-Pakistan relations. This is completely fake news. Certain media’s hyping up of the protests against China in Gwadar region lacks factual basis”.
Zhao had also said that media reports on anti-China protests in the Gwadar region are groundless. “It has been verified that there are no Chinese trawlers harboring in the Gwadar Port or fishing in relevant waters”, Zhao said.
In a hard-hitting interview, the FBM leader refuted Chinese claims point by point.
Baloch said: “No one can deny the fact that Balochistan’s marine resources are being exploited by Chinese trawlers. Most of the companies which are involved in the destruction of local fish trade and ecology of the Baloch Sea are co-owned by retired Pakistani military generals and Chinese nationals”.
The FBM leader added that Balochistan generally, and Gwadar particularly, has been turned into a vast prison where Baloch people cannot freely travel from one place to another without harassment by Pakistan’s military forces. He was referring to the security check posts by the Pakistani military.
Baloch said: “The Pakistani State implements the security regime in Balochistan in the name of CPEC. Imperialist China supports Pakistan’s colonisation and oppression in occupied Balochistan”.
Jamal Nasir Baloch pointed out that this kind of a collaborative set-up between China and Pakistan over the mega $62 billion CPEC infrastructure and port project cannot bring progress and growth to the local community. “No coloniser can bring development and progress in a colonised and occupied country”, indicating that the Baloch community considers itself a colony of Pakistan.
Baloch nationalists have been running a long-drawn movement targeting Pakistani troops as well as Chinese nationals-both of who are considered to be imperial forces. Led by Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman of the Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI), the Gwadar protestors want their sea to be cleared off the Chinese trawlers, who have emptied the Arabian Sea of fishing resources. The Baloch people have been denied access to the coast due to the construction of the dual-use Gwadar port by China.
The people have also demanded basic facilities like water and power, restoration of livelihoods, opening up the border with Iran for trade as well as reducing the number of security checkpoints.
They have lead a non-violent peaceful agitation for the last 18 days. The Gwadar Ko Haq Do movement has spread to other town along the Balochistan coast of Makran.
Separately, Zhao’s comments on Twitter garnered sarcastic comments from other Baloch nationalists.
Replying to the Chinese diplomat, Hakeem Baloch, President of the Baloch National Movement, said: “This China government official account is not just blatantly lying about the massive protest in Gwadar. He is also trying to ignore the fact that whole world is aware of China’s debt policy in the name of development projects”.