The controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – the flagship project of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – is being extended to Afghanistan, a study report said Sunday.
The BRI has injected “fresh vitality” to Asia’s economic cooperation and helped the continent to reshape its international relations, said the Asian Competitiveness Annual Report 2018 released here on the sidelines of China’s Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference.
China in December had unveiled its plans to extend the 50 billion CPEC to Afghanistan which has sparked concerns in India.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his meeting with his Pakistan and Afghan counterparts had offered to extend CPEC to Afghanistan.
“China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” Wang had said at the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting.
The BFA was formed by China in 2001 on the lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and holds its meeting every year.
This year’s forum to be held till April 11 has opened at Boao today a coastal town in the southern island province of Hainan. President Xi Jinping is due to address the conference.
“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, has not only improved local infrastructure but also is extending toward Afghanistan, reducing poverty, the hotbed of terrorism, and bringing better prospects for local people’s lives,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.
The multi-billion-dollar BRI, the pet project of Xi has become a major stumbling block in India-China relations as CPEC has been listed as its “flagship project”.
India has protested to China over CPEC, which is being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Outlining India’s concerns on BRI, Indian Ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale told Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post recently that “when we talk about development projects or connectivity projects, they must be transparent, fair and equal. There are certain internationally accepted norms for such projects”.
“If a project meets those norms, we will be happy to take part in it. One of the norms is the project should not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country. Unfortunately, there is this thing called CPEC, which is called a flagship project of BRI which violates India’s sovereignty and territory integrity. Therefore, we oppose it,” he said.
Earlier, he told state-run Global Times that both countries should resolve differences. “This is a major problem for us. We need to talk about it, not push it under the carpet,” he said.