Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, July 28th, 2017

China Stands Strong for Regional Trade

China as a regional power seems to be very active regarding business opportunities not only for its own self but for the region as a whole. One of the most important initiatives in this regard is ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative that is being pursued by China to open trade routes in the whole region and even to the other continents. OBOR basically refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is gaining support and acceptance in the Eurasian and Southeast Asian nations and is believed to be a vital route for growing businesses in the region.

As Afghanistan is a channel connecting Central Asia and South Asia, it has a vital role in the project, therefore, it can benefit to a large extent from it. If the idea of One Belt One Road is successfully implemented, it would open up the old economic routes in Asia. Afghanistan as an ancient economic artery of the Silk Road, can put interconnection and relationships of trade and investment through the region as its top priority.

China is already working for the implementation of big economic and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Preparations are taking place in this regard and even both the countries are in the process of signing different Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) as well. Moreover, China is also investing billions of Dollars in Pakistan for developing China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will extend to other regional countries in the future and Afghanistan is one of them. Moreover, the importance of Afghanistan for the development of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and its different corridors cannot be overlooked. Thus, Afghanistan is an important country for the development of OBOR and different projects that lead to it and China seems to realize this fact.  

Sino-Afghan relations are at a historical point as China could be in the leading role in the post withdrawal Afghanistan. It can definitely play a constructive role in the peace process in Afghanistan and China has already given the indication that it is ready to support Afghanistan in this regard. Different strategists in Afghanistan also believe that China could be really supportive for Afghanistan in the upcoming challenges. They, on many occasions, have expressed hope that Beijing could play proactive role in Afghan peace process, and also emphasized that lasting peace in Afghanistan would benefit Afghanistan, China and the whole region.

On the other hand, China can also have an immense role to play in the economic stability of Afghanistan and promoting the business and financial self-sufficiency of the country. It has already done much in the same regard. China is not the largest donor country to Afghanistan, but China’s aid is sincere and without any political conditions. In the 1950s and 1960s, although China was not better off at that time, it still built some aid projects such as Parwan Irrigation System and Kandahar Hospital for Afghanistan, which still function well in promoting the livelihood and welfare of local people. In recent years, China has been actively supporting the Afghan peaceful reconstruction. China had provided more than 1.6 billion yuan of grants, trained more than one thousand professionals in all fields through bilateral and multilateral channels, provided over 10 batches of goods and materials, built important projects such as Jumhoriate Hospital, Teaching Building of Chinese Language Department and Guest House of Kabul University, National Center of Science and Technology Education, and Multi-functional Center in the Presidential Palace for Afghanistan. All of these have played effective role in promoting the development and people’s livelihood of Afghanistan, and gained praises from all walks of life of Afghanistan. During President Ashraf Ghani’s state visit to China, China committed to provide 2 billion yuan of grants to Afghanistan from up to the end of 2017, and train 3000 professionals in various fields up to 2020. China has clearly shown the willingness that it will not leave Afghanistan’s hand at this crucial juncture, wherein it is in dire need of both political stability and economic support. At the same time, it is important to note that the announcement of around USD 3.5 billion by Metallurgic Corporation of China for the development of Aynak Copper mines is another important contribution that can have a lasting impact on the overall economy of Afghanistan.      

Apart from economic and political support, China has always continued support for Afghanistan in different other sectors as well. Education and capacity building have been among the most important ones. China, during President Ghani’s visit, also promised to provide 500 scholarships to students in the next five years.

In addition, the peace process with Taliban is being supported by China and China has given clear indication that its role would be assistive regarding the process. Thus, it is as clear as crystal that China’s role is imperative for Afghanistan’s peace, reconstruction and other sectors. It is vital that China, being a regional power, keeps on supporting Afghanistan for the promulgation of peace and tranquility as it would guarantee a more peaceful region.