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The Belt and Road Upgrades China-Afghanistan Relations
2016/03/25

On March 22nd, 2016, H.E. Mr. Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, published an article entitled the Belt and Road Upgrades China-Afghanistan Relations in Kabul Times. The article is attached as follows:

According to the just-concluded Annual Session of the Chinese National People's Congress, China’ economy maintains stable development. With an increase of 6.9% over the previous year, China’s GDP reached US$10.4 trillion in 2015, equivelant to an increment of a medium-sized developed country. In 2015, China continued to be the second largest economy as well as the largest goods trader, contributing over one quarter to the world’s economy. Personal income continued to rise, and economic performance continued to improve. The number of rural people in poverty was reduced by 14.42 million. All the facts show that China made impressive economic achievements in 2015, against the background that the deep-going effects of the downward pressure on the global economy still increase.

At present, China is experiencing economic restructuring, with the pace of economic growth slowing down. Nevertheless, the Chinese Government spares no efforts to maintain a mid-to-high growth rate. In the coming five years, it is estimated that China will achieve annual GDP growth rate above 6.5%, import more than US$10 trillion of goods, and its investment abroad is expected to exceed US$500 billion. In 2020, China’s GDP is expected to reach US$15 trillion, enabling China to make more positive contribution to the world economy.

As the Chinese saying goes, “a single flower does not make spring, while one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden.” China strives to achieve economic development and also hopes that our development can benefit the rest of the world. Therefore, China actively promotes the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritine Silk Road(the Belt and Road). As President Xi Jinping of China said, in promoting the Belt and Road, China will follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. The development of the Belt and Road initiative will be open and inclusive, not exclusive. It will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a solo for China itself. What it unfolds before the world will be a new historical painting of shared development and prosperity on the entire Eurasian continent.

Occuping a central location of Asia, Afghanistan is not only an important neighboring country for China, but also one of the important countries along the ancient Silk Road which used to be the traffic hub connecting central Asia, south Asia and west Asia. Under the joint efforts of both sides, China-Afghanistan Strategic Cooperative Partnership maintains good momentum of development. The Belt and Road construction will create new opportunities to Afghanistan and our bilateral relations, and bring tangible benefits to the Afghan people. Afghanistan is among the regional countries actively echoing the Belt and Road initiative.

China would like to coorperate with Afghanistan on the counstruction of the Belt and Road in the following five fields:

I. Policy Coordination. China is willing to discuss strategies and policies on economic development with the Afghan side, and welcomes Afghanistan, with its geographical advantages, to formulate a national strategy for development, so as to achieve common development with China.

II. Facilities Connectivity. Currently Afghanistan is promoting regional connectivity including China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikstan- -Afghanistan-Iran railway, CASA-1000 and Lapis Lazuli Corridor. China would like to discuss the construction of transportation infrastructure with Afghanistan, and work together with Afghanitan to enhance connectivity between Afghanistan and other regional countries.

III. Unimpeded Trade. According to the Central Statistics Office of Afghanistan, the bilateral trade between China and Afghanistan reached US$1.05 billion in the fiscal year of 2014-2015 and China became the third largest trading partner of Afghanistan. In 2015, the duty free treatment was extended to over 97% of Afghan-originated products exported to China. Afghan export to China grew 2.4 times in value than that in 2012 according to statistics from China Customs. In recent years, a large number of Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have come for investment in Afghanistan, and make a significant contribution in the social and economic development of Afghanistan. China has become No. 1 source of FDI for Afghanistan. Meanwhile, thousands of Afghan businessmen are doing business successfully in Chinese cities like Yiwu and Guangzhou. These people have become an important link of bilateral economy and trade.

IV. Financial Integration. China will strengthen bilateral and multilateral financial cooperation with Afghanistan, and is positively considering Afghanistan’s application for the membership of AIIB.

V. People-to-people Bonds. Over the past years, the growing exchanges in the fields of parliament, culture, education, think tanks and media have dramatically strengthened the traditional friendship between our peoples. At present, China trains 600 professional personnel and provides 150 scholarships for Afganistan annually. The people-to-people exchange plays an important role in promoting mutual understanding and trust between our two countries.

Great accomplishments require ambition and tireless effort. China is willing to join hands and work with Afghanistan to construct the Belt and Road, bring new life to the ancient Silk Road, and take this opportunity to promote the traditional friendship and mutually-beneficial cooperation between our two countries to a new height.

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