Afghanistan’s newly appointed President Ashraf Ghani’s first official trip will be to China later this month, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, an indication of Beijing’s increasing influence in the war-torn country, getting ready to face the aftermath of the pulling out of US-led troops.
It will be Ghani’s first official trip abroad after taking over last month, the foreign ministry said, stressing that the Afghan President’s first high-level visit will enhance ties between Kabul and Beijing.
India will be keeping a close watch on the four-day visit – between October 28 and 31 -- as traditionally Kabul and New Delhi have maintained close ties.
But China – which shares a strip of a border with Afghanistan -- is clearly preparing to rapidly increase its role in that country, which is in desperate need of massive and all-round reconstruction.
Foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, emphasised on China’s developmental role in Afghanistan while announcing Ghani’s visit.
“We hope that the visit will help deepen tangible cooperation between China and Afghanistan in various areas, and show China's support of Afghanistan's steady transition and peaceful reconstruction so as to forge ahead the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation,” Hua said.
Chinese leaders will have an in-depth exchange of views with Ghani on bilateral relations and issues of common concern, Hua said.
Hua called Afghanistan “a traditional good neighbor of China,” adding that China values development of ties with Afghanistan, firmly adopts a friendly policy towards Afghanistan, and supports its reconstruction.
She reiterated that China will provide assistance in Afghanistan’s reconstruction projects as much as possible within Beijing’s ability.
Besides aiding in reconstruction, Chinese state-owned enterprises already have substantial stakes in Afghanistan
“A Chinese mining company, MCC-Jiangxi Copper, owns a thirty-year lease worth $3 billion in a copper mine in Mes Aynak and oil giant CNPC is pursuing a joint oil venture with a local partner in Amu Darya,” the Diplomat said in a recent article.
Beijing will also be worried about the influence of a chaos-ridden Afghanistan and the Taliban on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s remote northwest, which has seen a sharp increase in violence in recent months.