Beijing: American troops have been withdrawing from Afghanistan, which leaves the country vulnerable.
China appears to be preparing to ramp up its involvement in Afghanistan amid US troops withdrawal — with Beijing eyeing the war-torn nation for investment and influence opportunities.
According to The New York Post, in recent weeks, Beijing has been vocal in slamming the United States for pushing forward with its troop withdrawal, citing the deteriorating situation on the ground. Still, it had not made any public commitments regarding a response.
US President Joe Biden has set a deadline of September 11 for the final pullout of the remaining troops from Afghanistan.
Citing the media reports, the Newspaper outlet reported that the Kabul authorities have become much more deeply engaged with Chinese leaders as the two work toward a deal to invest in Afghanistan's infrastructure through China's international "Belt and Road Initiative."
As per the outlet, the trillion-dollar program has funded multiple projects — focusing on hard infrastructures like airports, roads, and seaports — throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The Chinese Communist Party has used it to strengthen its influence by providing underdeveloped countries with infrastructural loans in exchange for control of local resources.
The media report stated that the deal would extend the USD 62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Beijing-led initiative.
"There is a discussion on a Peshawar-Kabul motorway between the authorities in Kabul and Beijing," New York Post quoted the sources. "Linking Kabul with Peshawar by road means Afghanistan's formal joining of CPEC," it said.
The outlet further reported that last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian confirmed that China and Afghanistan were discussing a CPEC extension, though he declined to discuss the matter.