KARACHI: China has said that its plan to include Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a recent meeting featuring the three countries does not target a ‘third party’ and that the project will be beneficial for ‘the whole region’.

The inclusion of Afghanistan in the CPEC, which will give China deep access into Central Asia, was portrayed in some media reports as China’s cornering of India, but Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying insisted that such a negative perspective was uncalled for, according to a dawn.com report.

“The CPEC targets no third party. Instead, it is expected to benefit third parties and the whole region,” said Ms Hua at a press briefing in Beijing. “Trilateral dialogue and cooperation does not target any third party and shall be free from any external disruption or disturbance,” she reiterated.

Regarding the CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan, the spokesperson explained: “Afghanistan is an important neighbour to China and Pakistan. It keenly aspires to develop its economy, improve people’s livelihood, integrate with the regional connectivity process, and leverage its geographic advantage to connect CPEC with the China Central and Western Asia Economic Corridor.”

Official says CPEC is expected to benefit the whole region

Ms Hua said, “In order to realise a larger-scale connectivity under the Belt and Road framework, the three parties agreed to identify concrete cooperation projects through equal-footed consultations to achieve common development and security as well as regional peace and stability.”

Earlier this week, foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan met in Beijing as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative to strengthen ties and develop cooperation between the three countries.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2017

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