China eyes Belt & Road extension in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, raising concerns for India

By Times of India

As the Taliban inch closer to forming a government in Afghanistan, China is seeing an opportunity to extend its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects into the country.

In an overt display of mutual bonhomie, China on Friday said that Taliban leaders support BRI and believe the projects are good for development and prosperity in the war-torn nation.

Taliban, meanwhile, described China as their most important partner and said that Beijing is ready to invest and rebuild the country.

Strategic gains
China on Friday said that cooperation with Afghanistan on BRI has delivered tangible benefits and the country under Taliban rule will provide a good environment for foreign investors.

“Afghan Taliban believes that the BRI is good for development and prosperity in Afghanistan and the broader region,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Friday.

China has been outlining plans to extend its $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under its tripartite diplomatic initiative with the inclusion of Afghanistan.

However, the plan did not see much progress due to political differences between the previous Ashraf Ghani-led government in Kabul and Pakistan over Islamabad’s support to the Taliban terrorists.

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