Days after India’s snub, Beijing says willing to extend China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. [File Photo]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has offered to support the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, days after India slammed a bid by China and Pakistan offering third countries to be part of the corridor that passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Wang made the offer to Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan’s Interim Government Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi on Thursday when they met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, news agency PTI reported.

“China hopes to push the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the development strategies of Afghanistan, support the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, and share China’s development opportunities,” Wang was quoted as saying by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on its website on Friday.

Last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Pakistan and China had decided to welcome interested third countries joining the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying it was “an open and inclusive platform” for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Launched in 2013, the CPEC is a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation, the news report said.

The CPEC is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jinping.

India on Tuesday criticised China and Pakistan for their efforts to encourage third countries to join the CPEC projects linked to the connectivity corridor that passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi that such activities under the CPEC are “inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable”, and will be treated accordingly by India.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Wang said China will grant zero tariff treatment to 98 per cent of the tariff lines of the Afghan products exported to China, and is willing to import more quality specialty products from Afghanistan.

China appreciates Afghanistan’s firm attitude to the counter-narcotics issue, and is willing to assist Afghanistan in planting alternative crops, he told his Afghan counterpart Muttaqi.

Quoting China’s top diplomat, the report said that Beijing will continue to urge the United States and other Western countries to remove the “unreasonable sanctions” on Afghanistan, and earnestly fulfill its primary responsibility for the economic reconstruction of the war-torn country.

China hopes that Afghanistan can build a broad-based and inclusive government and exercise moderate and prudent governance, maintain domestic stability and realise national harmony, Wang said.


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