Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Unlimited Potentials and Broad Prospects for China-Afghanistan Cooperation

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Unlimited Potentials and Broad Prospects for  China-Afghanistan Cooperation

There is a similar saying in both Chinese and Pashto, ‘as you sow, so shall you reap.’ On 20 January1955, China and Afghanistan established diplomatic relations. In the over 2,000 years before that, our two countries and peoples had already forged a deep friendship. In just over two months since I arrived, all Afghan friends I met have told me this: China is a good friend, brother, neighbour and partner of Afghanistan; Our two countries have helped each other over the years. We respect and love China and hope that our two countries’ friendship will be passed on, consolidated and developed through generations. President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah and other Afghan leaders, the Foreign Minister and other government officials have offered every convenience and support for me to carry out my duties. Friends from all walks of life have warmly welcomed the arrival of the Chinese ambassador. I am deeply touched and feel the warmth of home. My own experience shows that China-Afghanistan friendship has indeed taken root in people’s hearts.
Likewise, I would like to convey to you the sincere feelings and good wishes of the Chinese government and people. We feel proud to have such a good neighbour and good brother as Afghanistan! China hopes that Afghanistan will enjoy peace and stability and its people will enjoy a better life at an early date! China loves you!
China has just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. Over the past 70 years, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, we have made remarkable achievements in various fields.
China has performed a miracle in economic development. The economic aggregates amounted to only USD 30.4 billion in 1952 and exceeded USD13 trillion in 2018. It is now the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial country, the largest trading country in goods and the largest foreign exchange reserve holder. China contributed 27.5 percent of world economic growth in 2018 and have served as the world’s biggest engine of growth for 13 consecutive years.
China has also performed a miracle in human rights development. We uphold the rights to subsistence and development as the primary basic human rights. Our people have, on the whole, achieved a historic leap in their lives from dire poverty to adequate food and clothing and then to a relatively well-off situation. According to World Bank estimates, China has reduced poverty-stricken population by more than 850 million in the past 40 years, contributing more than 70% to global poverty reduction. Average life expectancy rose from 35 years in 1949 to 77 in 2018.
China has further performed a miracle in scientific and technological development. When New China was founded, it suffered poverty and blankness. In 2013, China became the world’s second largest source of research and development funding. We have been having the world’s most researchers and patent applications for inventions for six and eight consecutive years respectively. Significant achievements have been made in manned spaceflight, lunar exploration, quantum science and supercomputing. We even lead the world in 5G communication technologies.
It has been exactly 65 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. In those years, China-Afghanistan relations have registered steady progress.
In the past 65 years, the two peoples have stood shoulder to shoulder with each other in the struggle for national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. When the Afghan interim government was established in December 2001, China sent a working group to attend the inauguration ceremony and present the congratulatory letter to President Hamid Karzai. In June 2012, China and Afghanistan signed the joint declaration to establish a strategic and cooperative partnership. On issues bearing on China’s core interests, such as Taiwan and Xinjiang, Afghanistan has always firmly adhered to the one-China principle and supported our grand cause of peaceful reunification. Quite some Western countries, the US included, have attempted to subvert China or block its development with Xinjiang and other excuses. They repeatedly tried to instigate the countries concerned in the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and delivered joint statements on Xinjiang, all ending in strong opposition by the majority of Muslim countries and some European countries. It was justice and equity. Long suffered from terrorism, war and conflicts, Afghanistan knows too well the value of peace and stability and firmly supports China’s Xinjiang policy and counter-terrorism measures. I would like to thank Afghanistan for its support for China to defend its national unity. China stands ready to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism.
In the past 65 years, the two countries have actively carried out comprehensive cooperation at all levels and in broad fields on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. Our people have tangibly benefited from such cooperation. In May 2016, China and Afghanistan signed an agreement on jointly developing Belt and Road Initiative projects. China has been Afghanistan’s third largest trading partner for many years. Two-way trade reached about USD 1.1 billion last year. Many Afghan businessmen do business in China and many Chinese goods are available in Kabul. The two sides have achieved remarkable results in cooperation in education, culture and medical care. Every year, China provides 150 scholarships for Afghan students and trains more than 1,000 people from all walks of life. Last year, China treated 100 Afghan children suffering congenital heart disease. All of them were cured and have returned to their home country. Treasures from the National Museum of Afghanistan are touring many Chinese cities. Literary works such as The Kite Runner have been well received and widely read in China.
In the past 65 years, the two peoples have always shown sympathy and shared weal and woe in their fights against major natural disasters. In the pervasive scares of SARS outbreaks in China in 2002, former Afghan Vice President Shahrani was among the few leaders daring to visit China. The Chinese people will never forget this. Whenever Afghanistan suffers an earthquake, mudslide, flood or another natural disaster, Chinese emergency assistance has always arrived at the first moment.
In the past 65 years, the two countries have maintained close cooperation on the international stage. The two sides support each other in the UN and other international organizations, with increasing timely communication and coordination of positions on major international and regional issues.
All those years have witnessed friendship and cooperation as the main theme of China-Afghanistan Relations. The friendship is long-standing, comprehensive and stable, actually exemplary as a model of state-to-state relationship.
The sound and stable development of China-Afghanistan relations owe much to the following: First, successive leaders have kept a firm grasp on the right direction from a strategic height. Since 2014, President Xi and President Ghani meet each other every year. Second, both countries adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, respect each other and treat each other as equals. Third, they conduct cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit and win-win principles and coordination within the BRI framework has facilitated further economic and trade cooperation. Fourth, the two countries have always supported each other and worked closely together in international and regional affairs to safeguard the common interests of the two countries and peoples.
As the world today undergoes major changes unseen in a century, China and Afghanistan must further strengthen coordination and cooperation and jointly formulate clear plans for the development of bilateral relations. Only by so doing will we continue defending the fundamental interests of our two peoples, jointly working for a better future and carrying forward the friendship from generation to generation.
First, efforts should be made to keep the momentum of high-level exchanges and deepen the strategic cooperative partnership. China hopes that Afghan leaders will visit China at a mutually convenient time and is ready to send high-level delegations to Afghanistan.
Second, the Afghan peace and reconciliation process should be advanced. China firmly supports the broadly inclusive ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned’ peace and reconciliation process. We stand ready to provide platforms for the Afghan government to engage the various groups in constructive dialogues, including the Afghan Taliban.
Third, bilateral economic and trade cooperation should be further deepened. China welcomes direct export to China of pomegranate, marble and other local agricultural produces. It will implement well bilateral assistance and cooperation projects such as low-cost housing and photovoltaic power stations in Bamyan. We will support Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve independent economic development.
Fourth, anti-terror and security cooperation should be strengthened. China is ready to support the Afghan national security forces to improve their anti-terror and security capabilities so that peace and tranquility will return to Afghanistan and even the whole region at an early date.
Fifth, people-to-people communication should be enhanced. Friendship between nations lies in their people’s mutual affinity. The two sides should continue supporting academic cooperation and facilitating exchanges of visits between their media and cultural organizations. Enhanced mutual understanding between our peoples will power China-Afghanistan friendship to go on from generation to generation.
Going forward, there will be unlimited potentials and broad prospects for China-Afghanistan cooperation. In both the Chinese and Pashto languages, there is a proverb describing unity as a strength. Let us join hands in sincere cooperation and work for a better future for China-Afghanistan relations!

Wang Yu is Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan.

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