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China Expands Connectivity to Afghanistan


Image Courtesy Wikipedia

China is struggling to revive the mining and oil exploration contracts in Afghanistan. Despite a series of meetings held with the top leadership of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan by


Chinese diplomats and businessmen in the past one year there is no progress in activation of the Mes Aynak copper mines in the Logar province or the oil and gas projects in the Amu Darya basins in the North.


However China is now adopting a different strategy of increasing connectivity and trade with Afghanistan.


Direct Rail Road Links


China and Afghanistan have activated a multi modal transport. This includes around 500 kilometers from the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang to Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan – by road since there is no rail link, although one is planned eventually as per Eurasianet Report.


At Osh, the cargo is loaded onto trains to link up with Uzbekistan’s rail network across the border in Andijan the Euarasia report states.


The journey is expected to take no more than two weeks, compared to one to three months for the current route mainly used to send cargo from China to Afghanistan through Pakistan via the seaport of Karachi and overland.


The first trial run has been carried out successfully in September this year and regular trade may commenced suitably in the future


Air Corridor


China and Afghanistan have reactivated the air corridor that had been suspended after the Taliban took over Kabul in August last year.


Taliban’s official open source channel Bakhtar News Agency reported that Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar, Deputy Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was present at the re-opening ceremony of the air corridor between China and Afghanistan. Ghani has been given the responsibility of revival of the Afghan economy.


Beradar indirectly blamed Pakistan for delays in export and import of goods of Afghan traders are stopped at the customs of other countries for days, due to which Afghanistan suffers financial losses and highlighted that air corridors are the only way for a landlocked country like Afghanistan to deliver its goods to the world markets without hindrance or delay.


Beradar also highlighted the significance of the rail corridor to China by land through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and called it a historic honor and achievement in terms of easy access to Chinese markets.


Conclusion


China is possibly attempting to first open the land and air communication links to Afghanistan prior to commencement of mining and other projects having seen no progress in the same so far.


This could be the way to attract the Taliban to open up the sectors for Chinese investments even as Chinese security concerns of presence of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) presence in Afghanistan continue.

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