Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

China Spurns US Criticism of Economic Cooperation With Afghanistan: Yao Jing

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 30 (DNA): Ambassador of China to Pakistan Yao Jing has rebuked the
United States for being “ignorant” about his country’s ongoing key
economic contributions and cooperation with Afghanistan.

Arrangements are being worked out to enhance the cooperation with Kabul
even under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Yao Jing, the
Chinese ambassador to Pakistan told VOA.

He hailed Saturday’s successful Afghan presidential election, saying
China hopes they will boost peace-building efforts in a country wrecked
by years of conflicts.

“We hope that with the election in Afghanistan, with the peace
development moving forward in Afghanistan, Afghans will finally achieve
a peaceful period, achieve the stability,” said the Chinese diplomat,
who served in Kabul prior to his posting in Islamabad.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials and lawmakers during a congressional
hearing in Washington sharply criticized China for its lack of economic
assistance to Afghan rebuilding efforts.

“I think it’s fair to say that China has not contributed to the economic
development of Afghanistan. We have not seen any substantial assistance
from China,” Alice Wells, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for South and
Central Asia, told lawmakers.

Wells, however, acknowledged that Beijing has worked with Washington on
a way forward on peace as have other countries, including Russia and
immediate neighbors of Afghanistan.

“She is a little ignorant about what China’s cooperation with
Afghanistan is,” ambassador Yao said when asked to comment on the
remarks made by Wells.

He recounted that Beijing late last year established a trade corridor
with Kabul, which Afghan officials say have enabled local traders to
directly export thousands of tons of pine nuts to the Chinese market
annually, bringing much-needed dollars. Yao said a cargo train was also
started in 2016 from eastern China to Afghanistan’s landlocked northern
city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

China is also working on infrastructure projects, including the road
linking Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad and the road between the
central Afghan city of Bamiyan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Chinese companies,
Yao, said are also helping in establishing transmission lines and other
infrastructure being developed under the CASA-1000 electricity
transmission project linking Central Asia to energy-starved South Asia
nations through Afghanistan.

Ambassador Yao noted that China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of
understanding on BRI cooperation, identifying several major projects of
connectivity.

“But the only problem is that the security situation pose a little
challenge. So, that is why China and Pakistan and all the regional
countries, we are working so hard trying to support or facilitate peace
in Afghanistan,” he said.

For her part, Ambassador Wells told U.S. lawmakers that China’s BRI is a
“slogan” and “not any reality” in Afghanistan. “They have just tried to
lockdown lucrative mining contracts but not following through with
investment or real resources,” she noted.

Wells said that Washington continues to warn its partners, including the
Afghan government about “falling prey to predatory loans or loans that
are designed to benefit only the Chinese State.”

U.S. officials are generally critical of BRI for “known problems with
corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and a lack of
transparency.” The projects aims to link China by sea and land through
an infrastructure network with southeast and central Asia, the Middle
East, Europe and Africa.

But Yao rejected those concerns and cited the China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of BRI, which has brought around $20
billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan within the past six years. It
has helped Islamabad build roads and power plants, helping the country
overcome its crippling electricity shortages, improve its transportation
network and operationalize the strategic deep-sea Gwadar port on the
Arabian Sea.

Source: VOA






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