To my mind, the armed attack of November 23 on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, was the first real recognition of China’s status and influence in the world. That it was a grim and bloody reaffirmation of Chinese power is the way it goes.
Only those who matter are attacked – or fawned over. Sadly, eliciting a response is often a real sign that a country matters.
Hence, the many layers of security at US missions around the globe. It’s because the US matters – and has done – for a long time. That has long meant bombs just as much as bouquets.
Now, China too will probably have to “harden” (to use the hip term employed by American gun-rights enthusiasts for protecting schools in the US) security around its missions.
It is the price of being consequential.
(Some might say it is also a reflection on China’s callousness as it moves around the globe, creating wholly-Chinese worker ‘cities’ to build roads and bridges, and execute massive projects.)
The attack on China’s Karachi consulate came after several acts of aggression against Chinese nationals in Pakistan in the past year. This is hardly surprising. China is now hugely influential in Pakistan. It has a $60 billion investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of its Belt-and-Road global infrastructure plan. As part of that, China is developing an Arabian Sea port in Gwadar in Baluchistan and a highway connecting that port right the way through to Xinjiang, the Chinese region where the Muslim Uyghurs live.
After the assault, a militant group from Baluchistan claimed responsibility. The Baluch Liberation Army said it was fighting “Chinese occupation”.
There you go then. Influence awakens animosity amid the hosannas.