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Is China planning to enter Afghanistan to fill the vacuum left by U.S?

China has started preparing to enter the war-torn country to fill the vacuum left by U.S. and NATO troops. What is China up to?

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The American troops have left their main military base in Afghanistan. On the other hand, China has started preparing to enter the war-torn country to fill the vacuum left by U.S. and NATO troops.

According to Daily Mail, authorities in Kabul are considering extending a $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

First launched in 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping, and written into the Chinese constitution in 2017, it is billed by Beijing officials as a global infrastructure development fund which aims to better connect China to the rest of the world.

Aimed to be completed by 2049, China has been offering huge loans to countries in order to support them in creating better infrastructure including the building of new  highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China, to Afghanistan.

One project being discussed is the building of a major road between Afghanistan and the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.

‘There is a discussion on a Peshawar-Kabul motorway between the authorities in Kabul and Beijing,’ a source told The Daily Beast.

‘Linking Kabul with Peshawar by road means Afghanistan’s formal joining of CPEC.’

China had been attempting to extend its BRI to Afghanistan for at least the last five years but with the U.S. so heavily involved in the Afghani government, Kabul was hesitant to approve any deals fearing upset in Washington.

But now American troops have left Bagram Airbase, China is about to be welcomed with open arms.

There has been continuous engagement between the Afghan government and the Chinese for the past few years… [but] that made the U.S. suspicious of president Ashraf Ghani government,’ a source told the Beast.

‘Ghani needs an ally with resources, clout and ability to provide military support to his government.’

Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Zhao Lijian confirmed last month China was having discussions with third parties, including Afghanistan.

China is hoping that through its BRI strategy it can connect Asia with Africa and Europe through land and maritime networks that would span across 60 countries.

Read More: PM Khan calls Iran’s new president to discuss Afghanistan crisis

The strategy would enhance China’s influence across the world with an estimated value of $4 trillion.

Afghanistan could give China a strategic foothold in the region for trade with the country acting as a central hub connecting the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe.

Taliban warn neighbors to remain impartial

CNN-News18 Security Affairs Editor Manoj Gupta spoke to Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, member of the Taliban negotiating team and spokesman of the political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), who outlined the outlook for the trouble-torn nation, how his side expects to usher in peace, and the contours of relations with India and Pakistan.

When asked: “many people in India see the Taliban as influenced by Pakistan, who will do whatever Pakistan asks to do. How much will your policy on India be your own and how much of it will be what Pakistan asks?”

Read More: India evacuating RAW anti-Pak staff out of Afghanistan amid fears

He replied that India should remain impartial. “As far as the ground realities in Afghanistan are concerned, the Indians are living almost in a vacuum. Furthermore, they look at us from their angle of discrimination, bias and hostility. This is their origin of perception about us but it has not served them in the long run. They are siding with a foreign-installed government in Kabul which is killing its own people to stay in power. India should remain at least impartial in the Afghan issue, rather than supporting an occupation-born government,” he said.

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