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33 Months in Brilliant Karachi

By Li Xiaomeng | China Economic Net | Updated: 2019-04-18 13:35

Eventful and struggling initial days in Karachi

Karachi is the capital of the province of Sindh. The Chinese Consulate in Karachi is located in southern Pakistan and provides consular services for the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. It is home to a number of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects in this area, as well as many Chinese-funded enterprises and Chinese citizens.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and the Consulate General, the business office of the Consulate General in Karachi shoulders important duties in promoting the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, advancing the in-depth development of China-Pakistan economic and trade relations, and safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of Chinese-funded enterprises in the territorial areas.

On November 16, 2018, the Consulate General in Karachi held the 2018 Annual Conference on the Safety of Chinese Enterprises in the consular district. The meeting was presided over by Counselor Guo Chunshui of the Business Office. Counsel General Wang Yu and Deputy Counsel Chen Xiaodong also attended the meeting.

In Karachi, the biggest difficulty and challenge facing us is personal safety besides the harsh natural environment. But unexpectedly, the problem that I faced with at first was neither harsh conditions nor safety threats, but the extremely hot weather.

Karachi is torrid for nearly 11 months a year, and the temperature often exceeds 40 °C or even 50 °C in summer. In this heat wave, if you are outdoors, the skin will be almost burnt. Despite the roasting heat, you would never be drenched in sweat, because the sweat also quickly evaporates in the air. Living in Pakistan, I knew that it was very important to choose the right shoes; otherwise, they would be melted by the searing ground and become stuck to it.

My friends in Beijing sometimes complain about insufficient precipitation, but compared to Karachi, Beijing is blessed by a relative abundance of rain.

I still remember that evening in June 2017 when we were working overtime in the office. One of our colleagues called with excitement, “Come outside, it’s raining in Karachi!” I walked outdoors and saw him dancing with joy in the rain in the small courtyard of the business room. I still remember when he called out to me, “Let’s enjoy the rain.”

33 Months: A Journey Of Happiness

Work in the business office of the Consulate General was comprehensive and substantial. The Counselor often encouraged young people to take opportunities to accumulate knowledge and improve ourselves. I sincerely thank the organization for sending me to Karachi, so that I can have the precious opportunity to steel myself mentally and professionally. With the guidance and help of leaders and colleagues, I faced up to all difficulties, devoted myself to my career, and finally obtained an all-round growth.

Karachi Consulate Under Attack

As if in the blink of an eye, February 23, 2019 came up, the exact day that marked the 33 months I had been working in Karachi. Almost three months ago, the terrorists attacked the Consulate General in Karachi. That day, November 23, 2018 remains a nightmare for me. At 9:13 am, I was on the phone with a colleague of mine from the consular department. Suddenly, some noise interrupted from the other end of the line, and the next second I heard my friend speaking in a rushed tone, “Xiao Meng, I got to go, sounds like a gunfight breaking out!”

Pakistani EOD police on the scene of the terrorist attack.

The phone was hung up. A gunfight?! I couldn’t help but feel worried and frightened as if my heart was being squeezed by a big hand. After a quarter of an hour, we finally got in touch again only to know that the consulate was being attacked. The terrorists broke into the consulate’s waiting room and exchanged gunfire with the Pakistani police. The fierce gun battle caused many casualties of the Pakistani police protecting the location. Fortunately, most of the consular officials were safe hiding in the basement.

Extremely worried about our safety from thousands of miles away, leaders, colleagues, and families from the motherland China got in touch with us the moment the news spread out and paid close attention to the situation. Their concern was strongly reminiscent of the peaceful life in China. But we were aware that being confronted by harsh conditions and safety threats was a part of the routine for our Chinese diplomats in Karachi.

Donations Poured In

A donation ceremony jointly organized by the Karachi Branch of the All-China Enterprises Association and the Three Gorges Pakistan Wind Power Company On April 18, 2018.

A donation ceremony jointly organized by the Karachi Branch of the All-China Enterprises Association and the Three Gorges Pakistan Wind Power Company was organised on April 18, 2018 at the Jhimpir Secondary High School in Thatta, Sindh Province, in southern Pakistan. Nearly 100 people attended this event, including Counselor Guo Chunshui, Commercial Office of the Chinese Consulate General in Karachi, Ding Hongyu, Vice President of the Karachi Branch of the All-China Enterprises Association, Deputy General Manager of the Three Gorges South Asia Company, Mr. Wang Minsheng, the employees of the Three Gorges Pakistan Wind Power Company, the councillors of the Thatta Regional Government, the officers of the Thatta District Education department, representatives of the village and the donated schools.

Visa Issues Of Pakistani Entrepreneurs

With regards to handling foreign cases, I was a novice when dealing with corporate problems two years ago. During the 33 months in Karachi, I not only learned and mastered a large number of laws and regulations, but also accumulated sufficient work experience. I also helped Chinese-funded enterprises in the consular districts to solve a number of difficulties in investment and operation under the guidance of the Counselor and the help of my colleagues.

In 2017, when I helped companies deal with the goods retention in port, I managed to get a legal explanation specially issued by the Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan, which not only helped companies avoid a large number of economic losses, but also improve the tax regulations on special vehicles of Pakistan customs.

In 2018, we helped many Chinese seed export companies recover their economic losses and maintain the international reputation of Chinese hybrid rice. Vice president of the China National Seed Association led a delegation to visit our Consulate and sent a banner saying “Commitment to the nation” which is the biggest compliment to us.

These achievements were the outcomes of countless sleepless nights of reading materials, studying relevant laws and international jurisprudence, collecting evidence, and repeated consultations with Pakistani colleagues.

The banner sent by the China National Seed Association

With regard to research and writing, I remember that more than two years ago, the Counselor reviewed my draft, explaining the norms and requirements of the official document with patience. I am grateful to the Counselor for his tireless guidance on topics, structure, and writing of my report. I am also grateful to myself for being determined to improve the writing level and research skills of the official document. This also proves the phrase “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

For a long time, I also faced many inconveniences and difficulties in my work and life as the only Chinese female diplomat in the Karachi area. I fully respected the local religious habits, making efforts to improve my professional knowledge and better know about Pakistan. I tried my best to not lag behind in the teamwork and display my professional skills to the best of my abilities. I also learned some simple Urdu language, which brought me closer to the local people.

Gradually, I heard friends from Pakistan saying, “Madam Lee of the Chinese Consulate General is very kind and is a good friend!”

New beginning: Marching to the bright future

Looking back to the past 33 months, I came to realize the importance of my mission:

——We are the image of China in foreign affairs

——We are the guardians of the motherland in the face of the changing political landscape and economic turbulence.

——We are the pioneers in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.

——We are solid support providers when Chinese-funded enterprises are in trouble .

The Invisible Future

Compared with 33-months ago, the overseas working experience has endowed me more confidence to face more challenges in the future.

The harsh condition of Karachi built up my perseverance. The threat of terrorism does not deter us from moving forward boldly. The temporary difficulties will not shake our resolve to continue our traditional friendship, advance the building of the China-Pakistan economic corridor and deepen our economic and trade cooperation.

As a devoted business diplomat, 33 months is too short for me. The future will be more challenging!

On November 24, 2018, the day after the terrorist attack, the whole Consulate was busy coping with the aftermath. I received the bad news that my grandfather passed away, but I couldn’t return to China because of the chaos in Pakistan.

In the middle of the night, my father comforted me on the phone, “That’s alright. Your grandpa understands your choice.” Hearing that, the tears went streaming down my face. I believe I am devoted to my duty as my predecessors and colleagues were.

This article is dedicated to:

The Pakistani police officials who sacrificed their lives in the terrorist attacks to protect us.

My Leaders, colleagues, and comrades who are committed to the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,

And my grandfather.


The article was originally published at Gwadar Pro


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