China to push for stable Afghanistan in regional conference

Special envoys from Russia, Pakistan, Iran and China will meet today over video call to discuss coordinating support for national

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in 2016

Photo: Xinhua

Special envoys from Russia, Pakistan, Iran and China will meet today over video call to discuss coordinating support for national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The virtual meeting follows US-led efforts to initiate intra-Afghan negotiations back in February, when US and Taliban representatives signed an agreement that included a framework for ending American involvement in Afghanistan. Although the agreement slated intra-Afghan talks to begin on March 10, negotiations have stalled after two deadly attacks this month, which Afghan officials have attributed to the Taliban.

A stable Afghanistan plays into Chinese economic interests, as Beijing looks to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Afghanistan as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. China is currently Afghanistan’s largest foreign investor, with significant stakes in oil and copper developments. Afghanistan also shares a short border with China’s Xinjiang province, leaving Beijing concerned by the potential spread of extremism to a region it already considers volatile.

Although Washington will welcome economic development in the country, further grabs for natural resources in Afghanistan by Beijing could lead to an investment race in the region between the US and China in the long term.

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