China’s Belt and Road to enter Afghanistan with Taliban victory

The Taliban have agreed with China and Pakistan to extend the Belt and road Initiative in Afghanistan, which could draw billions of dollars to finance infrastructure projects in the country affected by the sanctions.
Chinese foreign minister Qin band and his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met on Saturday in Islamabad and pledged to work together on Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, including handing over the $60 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor to the Taliban-ruled nation.
“The two sides agreed to continue their humanitarian and economic assistance for the Afghan people and to enhance development cooperation in Afghanistan, including through the extension of the CPEC to Afghanistan,” according to a joint statement released by Pakistan’s foreign ministry following the meeting
Chinese and Pakistani officials have previously discussed extending the project to Afghanistan, built under President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road initiative that began nearly a decade ago. The cash-strapped Taliban government has expressed its willingness to participate in the project and the prospect of obtaining much-needed infrastructure investments.
The Taliban’s top diplomat, Amir Khan Muttaqi, traveled to Islamabad to meet with his Chinese and Pakistani counterparts and reached an agreement, his deputy spokesman Hafiz Zia Ahmad said by telephone.
The Taliban have also harbored hopes that China will step up investment in the country’s rich resources, estimated at $1 trillion. The government signed its first contract in January with a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation to extract oil from the northern Amu Darya basin.
The Chinese and Pakistani ministers also stressed the need to unfreeze Afghanistan’s overseas financial assets. The Taliban have been barred from accessing some $9 billion of Afghanistan’s central bank reserves held overseas over fears that the funds will be used for terrorist activities.
Washington later agreed to release half of them to shore up the economy, but suspended it after the Taliban imposed some school and work restrictions on Afghan women last year.
Militant-turned-administrators see the investment as a way to repair a cash-strapped economy after international aid, which accounts for 60% of government spending, was halted following the chaotic withdrawal of US troops in 2021.
China, Russia and Iran are among the few countries that maintain close ties to the Taliban. They provided tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Taliban, but stopped short of formally recognizing the government.
The United States remains the single largest donor to the humanitarian response by global agencies, having provided more than $2.1 billion since the Taliban regained power, according to a report.
A United Nations agency said last week that $4.6 billion is needed this year to help more than two-thirds of the country’s 40 million people living in extreme poverty. A 2022 Gallup poll showed that nine out of ten Afghans find it “difficult” or “very difficult” to survive on their current income.
Chinese firms have been wary of investing in Afghanistan due to attacks by the Islamic State group, which competes with the Taliban for influence. In December, the militant group took credit for an attack on a Kabul hotel frequented by Chinese diplomats and businessmen.
There is also the presence of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Xinjiang-based separatist group, which has kept Beijing cautious about expanding its influence.
Muttaqi’s second visit to Pakistan comes days after the United Nations stressed the need to engage with the Taliban rulers as Afghanistan grapples with the world’s “largest” humanitarian crisis.


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