Afghanistan wants to join CPEC, India must not disturb dialogue: China….reports Gaurav Sharma from Beijing
China said Afghanistan’s willingness to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor should not worry India and warned it against “disturbing” the key project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
A day after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China and Pakistan want Afghanistan to join the CPEC, the Foreign Ministry said Kabul is willing to join the multi-billion dollar corridor, which cuts through Pakistan-administered Kashmir claimed by India.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sought to allay India’s fear that the project was directed at it and, at the same time, warned New Delhi of not “disturbing and influencing it”.
“They are willing to integrate into the regional connectivity process and they are willing to integrate into the CPEC,” Hua said at the daily press conference.
However, there has been no public announcement by Afghanistan.
Hua said in the Wednesday trilateral meet of the Foreign Ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, that the three countries agreed to promote connectivity under the Belt and Road framework.
“Just as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the joint press conference, CPEC is not directed at the third party and we hope to bring benefit to the third party and the whole region,” Hua said without naming India.
“Afghanistan is the common neighbour of China and Pakistan and it has a strong desire for developing the economy and in improving people’s livelihood.”
“The trilateral cooperation and dialogue is not directed at any country or any party and the dialogue and cooperation should not be influenced and disturbed,” Hua said.
The CPEC – a network of highways, railways, roads and special economic zones, which connects China’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, is opposed by India as it passes through a part of Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.
China has always sought to allay India’s apprehensions about the project, describing it purely as an economic initiative.
Beijing also says the project will not affect its neutral stance on the Kashmir issue.
Meanwhile, China urged India and Pakistan to maintain peace along the LoC, which has witnessed a spurt in cross-border firing including the killing of three Pakistani soldiers by Indian Army commandos this week.
China, which maintains a neutral position on the Indian-Pakistan dispute, asked the two countries to stay committed to the peace and stability of the region.
“We have noted the relevant report. As a common neighbour and friend of Pakistan and India, we hope India and Pakistan can continue to properly resolve the relevant dispute through dialogue and consultation and jointly stay committed to the peace and stability of the South Asian region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
She was replying to a question about the killing of at least three Pakistani soldiers by Indian Army commandos who went some 300 meters across the LoC.
It was “tit-for-tat” operation after four Indian Army men, including a Major, were shot dead in a surprise attack by Pakistan.