Afghanistan may soon formally join China’s Belt & Road Initiative

01:49 PM | 18 Dec, 2018
Afghanistan may soon formally join China’s Belt & Road Initiative
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ISLAMABAD – Amid efforts to end the region's relentless conflict, economic and political ties between China and Afghanistan are taking new shape with an aim to improve regional cooperation, apparently overtaking America’s war-based policy.

Daniel Hyatt, a Pakistan-based freelance journalist, wrote in his opinion piece “Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sees China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a means to strengthen regional cooperation”:

“It is, therefore, only a matter of time before the Afghan government formally joins the Belt and Road program,” he claimed.

On December 15, officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China met in the Afghan capital Kabul to discuss trade, development, and solutions to the 17-year-old war. They renewed the call to end the fighting in Afghanistan.

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The meeting was second in a series of dialogues between the foreign ministers of the three countries. During the talks, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said his country wants to participate in the Chinese initiative to link regions for trade.

China also sees an end to the war as critical to its "One Belt, One Road" policy of expanding trade links across Asia.

Under the BRI, China is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a key project of that policy. The project aims at developing a route to link western China to the world.

Bringing Afghanistan into the BRI net is also a priority for Pakistan as it will connect Central Asian states with China on the east. “Afghanistan's participation in the initiative will open up a new and economical route for these states to connect with South Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets – simultaneously offering the same advantages to Afghanistan,” read the piece.

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The Chinese government supports an improvement of Afghanistan's infrastructure network, while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sees the BRI as a means to strengthen regional cooperation. It is, therefore, only a matter of time before the Afghan government formally joins the Belt and Road program.