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CPEC to be extended to Afghanistan

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China, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been in communication through diplomatic channels on the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China's Foreign Ministry has said, reiterating that the CPEC is an economic initiative that does not target any third party and won't affect its position on the Kashmir issue.

"We have also noticed that Afghanistan has imported and exported related goods through the Gwadar Port and Karachi Port. China, Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussing issues related to extending roads and expressways in Pakistan to Afghanistan," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, told a regular press conference in Beijing last week.

"China has stated its position on Kashmir many times. The CPEC is an economic initiative that is not aimed at third parties, and has nothing to do with territorial sovereignty disputes. It won't affect our principled position on the Kashmir issue," the spokesman was quoted as saying by the Global Times, official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.

The CPEC, as one of the pioneering projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, has made important and major progress in strengthening infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks, Zhao said, adding that China is extending the CPEC to regional countries, including Afghanistan.

"This will not only boost faster economic development in Pakistan, but also regional connectivity," said the spokesperson.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan welcomed Zhao Lijian's statement, saying Beijing is having discussions with third parties, including Afghanistan, on the extension of the flagship project.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

A lot has been said about the One-Belt One-Road initiative (OBOR), or as the Chinese call it the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It attracts unwanted attention, as no superpower in human history has been able to undertake a project so enormous, that it covers most continents and two-thirds of the world, is inclusive of all major areas of modern economy, and is undertaken by a non-white, non-European power, China.

With BRI, an ambitious signature foreign-policy initiative by the Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in 2013, China expects regional and global connectivity with and among some 126 countries and 29 international organizations (already on board), through a network of roads, highways, railways, pipelines, power plants, grids, fiber-optic and social welfare and poverty-alleviation projects, according to Inam Ul Haque of The Express Tribune.

The overall investment is a staggering over $1.3 trillion to establish six international corridors. The Initiative would ultimately cover over 65 countries, 60% of the world population and 40% of the global GDP. The trade volume among China and the participating countries is already over $6 trillion, with the potential of adding $117 billion.

CPEC covers the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

CPEC officially covers the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in western China, and the whole territory of Pakistan in a format comprising a 'core zone' and 'radiation zone'.

The corridor passes through key node cities including Kashghar (Kashi in Chinese), Atushi, Tumshuq, Shule, Shufu, Akto, Tashkurgan Tajik in China; and Gilgit, Peshawar, DI Khan, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Quetta, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Karachi and Gwadar in Pakistan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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