China on Wednesday said Afghanistan’s willingness to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor should not worry India and warned it against ‘disturbing’ the key project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
A day after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China and Pakistan want Afghanistan to join the CPEC, the Foreign Ministry said Kabul is willing to join the multi-billion dollar corridor, which cuts through Pakistan-administered Kashmir claimed by India.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sought to allay India’s fear that the project was directed at it and, at the same time, warned New Delhi of not “disturbing and influencing it”.
“They are willing to integrate into the regional connectivity process and they are willing to integrate into the CPEC,” Hua said at the daily press conference.
However, there has been no public announcement by Afghanistan.
Hua said in the Wednesday trilateral meet of the Foreign Ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, that the three countries agreed to promote connectivity under the Belt and Road framework.
“Just as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the joint press conference, CPEC is not directed at the third party and we hope to bring benefit to the third party and the whole region,” Hua said without naming India.
“Afghanistan is the common neighbor of China and Pakistan and it has a strong desire for developing the economy and in improving people’s livelihood.”
“The trilateral cooperation and dialogue is not directed at any country or any party and the dialogue and cooperation should not be influenced and disturbed,” Hua said.
The CPEC – a network of highways, railways, roads and special economic zones, which connects China’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, is opposed by India as it passes through a part of Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.
China has always sought to allay India’s apprehensions about the project, describing it purely as an economic initiative.
Beijing also says the project will not affect its neutral stance on the Kashmir issue.