BEIJING, (APP): China’s use of the Belt and Road initiative to help boost the reconstruction process of Afghanistan and promote talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a sign that Beijing is more confident in investing political, diplomatic and economic assets to facilitate peace and stability in neighbouring regions, experts said.
Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times that one way of cooperation is for China to transfer some of its industries to Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan is a close neighbour adjacent to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Its important strategic location connects Central and South Asia and is thus critical to regional peace.
Afghanistan is also rich in natural resources, which is conducive to cooperation along the CPEC,” Zhao said.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a network of highways, railways, pipelines and optical cables, and a flagship project under the Belt and Road initiative. The 3,000-kilometer-long corridor starts from China’s western city of Kashgar and ends at Pakistan’s city of Gwadar.
Analysts said China is trying to help chart a road-map for the peace process in Afghanistan through its own experience by using the economic corridor as an impetus for development.
They added that China’s role in regional diplomacy is slowly shifting to a more proactive stance but the country still hesitates to involve itself in any disputes directly or militarily.
“The past US presence in Afghanistan has proved that military means alone cannot solve the dilemma in Afghanistan. China will not make that mistake,” Qian Feng, a researcher of the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times.
Qian denied that China is challenging the US’ role in the region or filling the power vacuum it has left. “Both Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to the talks because of China’s neutral and objective stance. Even if the US influence is dropping in the region, it is not because of China but due to failed US foreign policy,” Qian said.