China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with South Korean special envoy Lee Hae-chan (unseen) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China May 19, 2017. Photograph: (Reuters)
It was a rare snub to Pakistan from a normally reliable ally, but Chinese President Xi Jinping missed a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summer in Astana, the Kazakh capital, after two Chinese teachers were murdered in Balochistan.
Sharif met the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Russia, but a meeting with Xi Jinping was notably missing.
More, the state-run media in China emphasised Xi's meetings with leaders from India and Russia. Xi's snub comes after deep disappointment and grief felt in China over the killings, after two Chinese teachers were kidnapped in Quetta last month and were reportedly murdered by Islamic State terrorists.
News of their kiling was published just before the SCO summit on June 8-9, in which Pakistan and India were made members.
Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the murders were in no way connected to the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Baloch nationalists oppose. The CPEC, in turn, is part of China's multi-billion dollar Belt and Road intuitive (BRI).
"This incident will not have any necessary connection with the BRI," nor with the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, meeting being held in Astana, Hua had said.
China has deployed hundreds of Chinese workers to work for the CPEC which connects Gwadar port in Balochistan with China's Xinjiang through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Hua said Pakistan pays great attention to the protection of Chinese citizens in the institutions there and made great efforts for their security.
"As per BRI we should be prepared for risks if want to go global. Since the three years after the BRI," she had said.