The abduction and reported killing of two young Chinese in Balochistan has stirred angry calls for retribution in Chinese social media, even as the Chinese government has played down the incident out of strategic considerations towards its “all weather ally” Pakistan.
Chinese internet users have even demanded action for China to send PLA troops to Pakistan to bring the kidnappers to justice, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday, even while Beijing has told State media outlets to play down the incident.
The ISIS group on June 8 claimed the kidnapping of two young Chinese, initially reported to be language teachers, near Quetta in Balochistan and said it had killed Li Zingyang (24) and Meng Lisi (26), although China has said it is still verifying the information with the Pakistani authorities even 10 days later.
To assuage anger, Chinese State media and Pakistani officials have since sought to change the narrative away from the security problems in Pakistan and have claimed Li and Meng may have been preachers.
In fact, Chinese outlets have gone as far as blaming the two young Chinese for their own tragic fate with the Party-run Global Times alleging they were preaching door to door and angering locals, triggering the kidnapping.
This attempt to shift the narrative has stirred fresh anger, the SCMP reported. “One user responded with dark humour: ‘The Pakistani government said they were told that the two Chinese were missionaries. I was just wondering, who told them?'”
Many comments on the Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo have demanded action and criticised Beijing’s response, the SCMP said.
“How much blood do we still have to spill until the government is willing to take action?” wrote Deng Dabao.
“We shall start a war against IS, killing them on behalf of the two murdered Chinese,” SCMP quoted another user Zhou Qi Bei Hou as saying. “It is time to fight violence with violence,” added Lingchen99096.
The newspaper said “a significant level of online outrage could be problematic for Chinese leaders who are reluctant to engage in overseas military operations yet are equally reluctant to stir up social unrest ahead of an important Communist Party meeting later this year. Government mainstream media has remained mostly silent on the issue.”
Despite the public anger
“Will Beijing follow the request of it’s citizens and send PLA troops to Pak? No, of course not,” Wu Xinbo of Fudan University in Shanghai told SCMP.