China has Extended CPEC to Afghanistan at an Islamabad meeting

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor famously known as the CPEC project is bilateral project to improve infrastructure within Pakistan for the better trade and transport with China and South Asian countries.

China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have decided to improve economic cooperation by jointly extending the CPEC project to Afghanistan to exploit the country’s full potential. According to them, this move will ensure regional connectivity and economic upliftment of the people of this region. As a hub for regional connectivity Afghanistan will be significant and strategic for Chinese investment.

The foreign ministers of all three countries officially met on Saturday in Islamabad. Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang and Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi conducted the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Foreign Minister Dialogue. The dialogue was intended mainly on the subjects like economic and security cooperation, trade and investment, connectivity, and counterterrorism, said Wang Wenbin Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson.

They emphasize their goal of expanding road networks under China’s Belt and Road Initiative plan. This move could flow billions of dollars in investment in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, which will help in reviving Afghanistan’s deteriorated economy and also enhance the country’s infrastructural development. This project will create new jobs and opportunities for the local people of the region.

CPEC is the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative which is considered Xi Jinping’s pet project. CPEC is a 60 billion dollar project which objects to connect the Gwadar port of Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang province. India has objections to the expansion of the CPEC project as it passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK).

All three parties have agreed to boost transit trade via Gwadar port and stressed the need to tackle terrorism. They jointly said this project will ensure the proper & safe movement of goods and people. All the parties pledged to work together for regional harmony, peace, and stability.

Challenges for China

Despite its ambitious plan, CPEC has not been that much fruitful for China as it has faced massive backlash in Pakistan. Military groups have protested against the Chinese project. Political instability and civil unrest in Pakistan have also contributed to hampering this CPEC project. Common people of Pakistan don’t want Chinese investment in their country as it comes with a heavy debt burden which can create economic woes in the country.

Security threat is also one more challenge in front of China. In 2022 there had been several attacks on Chinese nationals in many provinces of Pakistan over CPEC. several extremist groups have attacked various Chinese facilities in the region. This reveals the strong discord among Pakistani people over this project.

Afghanistan is a more unstable country than Pakistan and it also harbored dozens of terrorist and extremist organizations which will pose major threats to Chinese interests. The issue of Uyghur militants is at the fore of this security-related problem. The presence of Uighur militants on Afghan soil will hamper Chinese investment in the country. The growing uncertainty of Afghanistan’s future may create hurdles in China’s dream project. China must look at these challenges.

China’s interest in Afghanistan is massive. Afghanistan’s natural resources are one of the main focus of China. Through these types of investments, China may get access to these resources. This move will give extra leverage to China over Afghanistan.

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