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BEIJING: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is being extended to Afghanistan, a report said on Sunday. The $50 billion corridor that connects Kashgar in western China with Gwadar port in Pakistan, spanning 3,000 kilometres, is one of the pain points in ties between India and China.
“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,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.
The report was prepared by the non-profit Boao Forum for Asia, which has been holding its annual conference in Boao city in China’s Hainan Province since 2002, after it was formed by China in 2001 on the lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. On its website, the non-profit claims that it has become a high-end platform for dialogue among state heads, businesspeople and scholars. This year’s meeting started on April 8 and will end on April 11.
The Belt and Road Initiative has injected “fresh vitality” to Asia’s economic cooperation and helped the continent to reshape its international relations, the report said.
India has right from the start protested against China’s CPEC push as the corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
India’s ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale, in a March interview with the Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post, had said that if the CPEC meets the norms of an international programme, then New Delhi has no problem.
“One of the norms is that the project should not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country. Unfortunately, there is this thing called the CPEC which violates India’s sovereignty and territory integrity. Therefore, we oppose it,” the Indian envoy had told the Hong Kong daily.
The latest report by the China-headquartered non-profit reinforces what Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his meeting with his Pakistani and Afghani counterparts on extending the 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.