China seeks to promote Pakistan-Afghanistan talks through CPEC
China announced its plan to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. Since Pakistan's formation, its relations with Afghanistan have been frosty. China has now been trying to position itself as the peace-maker. Recently, ties have soured as Afghanistan blames Pakistan for supporting Taliban insurgents to limit India's influence. Pakistan has denied these allegations, saying it wants a stable Afghanistan. Here's more.
What is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an under construction, $57bn development project which seeks to improve Sino-Pak connectivity and enhance regional trade. The project envisages the creation of energy pipelines, road-and-rail links and industrial trade corridors between China and the Pakistani port of Gwadar. It runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and is a crucial part of China's ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) programme.
What is China's plan?
At the first trilateral meeting between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said Afghanistan needs development. Thus, these inter-connectivity initiatives should help. He further added that Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to mend their relationship. Wang said "China and Pakistan are willing to look at Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles" to extend the CPEC there.
Meanwhile, Pakistan does not directly mention Afghanistan joining the corridor
Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif termed Pakistan-China relationship as that of "iron brothers." However, he didn't directly mention the possibility of Afghanistan joining the CPEC. He said that CPEC's successful implementation will be a model for "enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia."
Why is China concerned about brokering peace?
China is negotiating peace between Afghanistan and Pakistan to ensure that they control terrorism within their countries. It fears that Islamist militancy might spread to western China's restive Xinjiang region. Meanwhile, India has raised objections to CPEC as parts of it run through the controversial Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Both India-Pakistan lay claim here. However, China said it doesn't have any underlying goal of claiming territory.