After economic connectivity, another SCO motto encouraged by Beijing since the early 2000s is the necessity to fight the “three evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism.
All SCO members are very much aware of jihadi metastases threatening Central Asia – from ISIS-Khorasan to shady Uighur factions currently fighting in Idlib in Syria, as well as the (fading) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
The Taliban is a way more complex case. It’s still branded as a terrorist organization by Moscow. Yet on the new, fast-evolving chessboard, both Moscow and Beijing know the importance of engaging the Taliban in high-stakes diplomacy.
Wang Yi has already impressed upon Islamabad – Pakistan is a SCO member – the need to set up a trilateral mechanism, with Beijing and Kabul, to advance a feasible political solution to Afghanistan while managing the security front.
Here, from China’s point of view, it’s all about the multi-layered China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to which Beijing plans to incorporate Kabul. Here is a detailed CPEC progress update.
Building blocks include the deal struck between China Telecom and Afghan Telecom already in 2017 to build a Kashgar-Faizabad fiber optic cable system and then expand it toward a China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan Silk Road system.
Directly connected is the deal signed in February among Islamabad, Kabul and Tashkent to build a railway that in fact may establish Afghanistan as a key crossroads between Central and South Asia. Call it the SCO corridor.
All of the above was solidified by a crucial trilateral meeting last month among China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers. Team Ghani in Kabul renewed its interest in being connected to Belt and Road – which translates in practice into an expanded CPEC. The Taliban said exactly the same thing last week.
Wang Yi knows very well that jihadism is bound to target CPEC. Not Afghanistan’s Taliban, though. And not the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), as quite a few CPEC projects (fiber optics, for instance) will improve infrastructure in Peshawar and environs.
Afghanistan in trade connectivity with CPEC and a key node of the New Silk Roads could not make more sense – even historically, as Afghanistan was always embedded in the ancient Silk Roads.
Crossroads Afghanistan is the missing link in the connectivity equation between China and Central Asia. The devil, of course, will be in the details. Read the full article here.
The New Silk Road: Russia-China-Iran takes control: Also check out The Rubin Report, Ron Paul Liberty Report YouTube channel, as well as Jordan Peterson, the BBC and FOX on the same topics.
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