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In the wake of the abduction and murder of two Chinese nationals in Pakistan, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar during a meeting on Wednesday made a policy decision to review the conditions and requirements for the issuance of visas to Chinese nationals, according to an Interior Ministry press release.

The interior minister called for a comprehensive mechanism to be put in place for the sharing of information of workers not only involved with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but also other Chinese nationals visiting the country for various jobs.

Read more: CPEC: Pakistan’s economic development or China’s Imperialism

After the announcement of CPEC project, fears were raised about the unrestrained entry of millions of Chinese nationals into Pakistan.

Several key decisions were made during the meeting which included business visas on arrival to Chinese nationals only to be granted after production of invitation/assignment letter certified and endorsed by recognized Chamber of Commerce, NADRA to help industry chambers and FIA with setting up electronic system for information sharing, regulation of process of granting extensions in business visas, extensions in work visa to be granted by Interior Ministry only and reintroduction of Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) to foreign spouses.

Impacts of the new policy

After the announcement of CPEC project, fears were raised about the unrestrained entry of millions of Chinese nationals into Pakistan. Many called for the introduction of a Saudi-style model for Chinese who are supposed to enter the country as part of this mega project or for other reasons.

The fresh rules will not only enable the government to provide security to Chinese national inside Pakistan but would also enable it to control the entry of Chinese nationals.

Critiques of the $57 billion project listed a number of reservations which included the large-scale purchase of property in Pakistan by Chinese citizens which might result in establishment of small colonies resulting in enmity with the locals, weakening of Pakistani industry and dearth of jobs for qualified Pakistanis due to the market being overtaken by experts from China and its cheap and quality products which the indigenous industry would find difficult to compete with.

Read more: The differing futures of Pakistan and China. Does Beijing get a bigger pie?

This new policy announced by the Interior Ministry has tried to address these concerns. The fresh rules will not only enable the government to provide security to Chinese national inside Pakistan but would also enable it to control the entry of Chinese nationals.

China also categorically denies all of the above allegations. The Chinese officials have iterated that the purpose of CPEC is to integrate Pakistan with OBOR project which would enable China to bypass the Straits of Malacca while industrializing western China. They state that these fears are propaganda which is part of the bigger strategy to sabotage the CPEC project. They also specify that the benefits of CPEC for Pakistan surpass the imaginary fears being circulated to hamper the project.

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