China responds to Indian concerns over Pakistan China Afghanistan trilateral partnership
BEIJING - China clarified on Wednesday that its plan to include Afghanistan into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a recently held trilateral 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 into CPEC, which will give China access deep into Central Asia, was portrayed by some media outlets as China’s cornering of India; but Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying, in a press briefing, insisted that such a negative perspective on the matter was uncalled for. “The CPEC targets no third party,” said Chunying. “Instead, it is expected to benefit third parties and the whole region.” “Trilateral dialogue and cooperation does not target any third party and shall be free from any external disruption or disturbance,” she reiterated. Regarding CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan, the spokesperson explained: “Afghanistan is an important neighbor 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.” “In order to realize 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,” she added. Earlier this week, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s foreign ministers had met in Beijing as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative to strengthen relations and develop cooperation between the three neighbouring countries.