Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

BRF Promotes Win-win Cooperation for China and Afghanistan

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BRF Promotes Win-win Cooperation for China and Afghanistan

China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing from 14 to 15 May 2017, with the aim of discussing ways to address problems of global and regional economy and pushing the Belt and Road Initiative (Initiative) to better benefit the people in all countries.
The important Initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to realize complementarity of advantages, synergy of development strategies and common progress for participating countries by closer international cooperation. Over the past three years and more, the Initiative, focused on economic cooperation especially infrastructure construction, is commonly welcomed and actively joined by all parties including Afghanistan, for it goes in tandom with the development prospects of the countries and the region alongside the Silk Road Route, boosts regional investment and domestic demand, increases job opportunities and reduces poverty, promotes development level of the whole region. At present, more than 100 countries and international organizations have joined the Initiative, among which more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.
As a hub connecting central, south and west Asia, Afghanistan enjoys an important geological advantage and owns huge development potentials. Afghanistan is not only a traditional neighbor of China but also an important partner along with the Initiative. Up to now, China and Afghanistan have achieved positive results under the Initiative.
1- Policy Coordination.
China is willing to coordinate strategies and policies on economic development with Afghanistan, support Afghanistan’s national development strategy and its participating in regional cooperation. The two countries have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between China and Afghanistan. From last year, there has been more than 20 minister-level delegations which visited each other and held policy-level discussions.
2- Facilities Connectivity.
The two sides have signed MoU on Cooperation in Information Technology & Telecommunication, which prioritizes the China-Afghanistan cross-border fiber optic project. China is willing to help Afghanistan with formulating infrastructure development plan, enhancing connectivity with regional countries around, and also would like to strengthen cooperation with Afghanistan on the construction of China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran railway and etc. China supports Afghanistan to expand its infrastructural connectivity with its neighbors in south, central and west Asia.
3- Unimpeded Trade
A direct flight from Kabul to Urumqi has been resumed, and the first ever freight train between China and Afghanistan has started. Necessary procedures have been completed for China to import saffron from Afghanistan. Negotiations for importing pomegranate, dry fruits and marble from Afghanistan are underway. Last year, Sino-Afghan bilateral trade volume reached close to US$1.1 billion. China remains the third largest trading partner and the largest source country of investment to Afghanistan. In recent years, Chinese companies with good reputation and capacity, have expanded investment in Afghanistan and contributed to the development of local economy and society.
4- Financial Integration
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank approved the membership for Afghanistan in March 2017. China would like to take up this opportunity to strengthen bilateral and multilateral financial cooperation with Afghanistan. The Silk Road Fund and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Development Bank under construction can also provide financial support for Afghanistan’s economic and social development in the future.
5- People-to-People Bonds
China and Afghanistan consistently promote bilateral exchange in the fields of congress, culture, education, think-tank, media and etc. The traditional friendship between the two nations has further deepened in recent years. Since 2016, the Chinese Government has successfully invited more than 50 Afghan delegations to visit China. At present, China trains about 1,000 professionals and provides 150 scholarships for Afghanistan annually, which have strengthened our mutual understanding and trust.
The BRF will be the highest-level forum under the Initiative since its launching over three years ago, and will focus on reviewing progresses and planning ahead, showcasing important early harvest outcomes, further building consensus for cooperation, discussing major cooperation measures in the future and working to advance a cooperation for win-win outcomes. A high level official delegation from Afghanistan will also participate in the Forum and discuss how to jointly build the Initiative with representatives from other countries.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) has great significance for China and Afghanistan in jointly building the Initiative. We hope Afghanistan can play an important role and be transformed into an important hub of connectivity and center of cooperation in the region, and believe that our bilateral relationship will be well nurtured during the process of jointly building of the Initiative.

Yaojing is the current Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Afghanistan.

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