Afghanistan and the Belt and Road Initiative
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This chapter has a twofold objective: to understand how China’s cooperation with Afghanistan has served the purposes of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to assess the role played by Afghanistan in the implementation of that project. The study is carried out in three domains—political and diplomatic, economic and security. In the political and diplomatic, we examine the evolution of China’s bilateral and multilateral diplomatic initiatives with or involving Afghanistan, underlining their economic and security implications. Attention is paid to China’s diplomatic efforts to find a political solution for the conflict in Afghanistan. In the economic, we study the evolution of the relations between both countries along three topics—aid and development financing, bilateral trade and investment in natural resources. The security domain is studied along two aspects: the regional impact of Afghanistan’s insecurity, namely in the security situation along the two BRI corridors that go around Afghanistan, and in Central Asia and China Islamist movements; and China’s competition with the United States in Central Asia. The evolution of the cooperation in those three domains comprises the analysis of its impact on BRI, and the identification of noticeable changes of strategy after the announcement of BRI by President Xi Jinping, in 2013. We argue that Sino-Afghan cooperation, beneficial for both countries, has not been oriented to the implementation of BRI. Despite the importance that BRI might have for the economic development of Afghanistan through investment in transportation, energy and telecommunications infrastructure and in its regional integration, China has not assigned to Afghanistan a relevant role within the framework of BRI, a project where Afghanistan plays a marginal and subsidiary role.
KeywordsBelt and Road Initiative China Afghanistan Central Asia
Afghanistan Analysts Network
Belt and Road Initiative
China-Afghanistan Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership
China-Central Asia-West Economic Corridor
China National Petroleum Corporation
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
English language website of China News Service
The Economic Times
East Turkestan Islamic Movement
General knowledge Today (Indian website)
International Crisis Group
Islamic State Khorasan
Metallurgical Group Corporation
Middle East North Africa Financial Network
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Mines and Petroleum
Memorandum of Understanding
Munich Personal RePEc Archive
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
New Delhi Television Limited
One Belt One Road
Observatory of Economic Complexity
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
People’s Republic of China
Quadrilateral Coordination Group
SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure
Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan
Steel Authority of India Limited
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Turkistan Islamic Movement
Turkistan Islamic Party
Voice of Afghanistan
Wall Street Journal
Official State-run Press Agency of the PRC
We acknowledge that Afghanistan is a field of competition between China and India, but we are not going to study it because it has no direct relation with the two goals of this article.
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