China to transport goods to Afghanistan by railway
Kabul— The Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) said that the process of transporting commercial goods by train from China to Afghanistan will start this month, reported Tolo News.
The head of the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) stated during his visit to Uzbekistan that the ARA and a Chinese company had agreed to transfer commercial goods from China to Afghanistan via Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
“We have reached an agreement with three countries, including a private company, and the details will be negotiated and finalized this afternoon,” said Bakht Rahman Sharaft, the head of the Afghanistan Railway Authority.
Chinese firms have grown interested in Afghanistan’s mining sector including projects involving copper and lithium, given the massive deposits in the country that are estimated to be worth as much as USD 1 trillion.
However, Beijing’s growing interest raises concerns for the West as China’s efforts are probably not altruistic.
Besides economic profit, strategic interests are at stake – and systemic competition with America.
The Chinese company is expected to transport 3,500 to 5,000 containers of commercial goods, and some Afghan traders may choose to use this route instead of the port of Karachi, reported Tolo News.
The transfer of raw materials from China to Afghanistan by train will cut costs according to representatives of the Chamber of Industries and Mines, while Afghanistan’s commercial goods remain in Karachi port for weeks at a time.
Currently, the port of Karachi serves as the entry point for commercial goods into Afghanistan from China.
The Chamber of Commerce and Investment said that this route costs Afghanistan a significant amount of money, reported Tolo News.
Currently, a significant portion of Afghanistan’s commercial commodities enters the country via the Haritan, Aghina, and Turghundi railways. Efforts are being made to open the Khawaf-Herat railway to traders.
China is focusing firmly on business diplomacy to expand its economic footprint across Afghanistan. It is also sparing no effort to promote and support the Taliban, which finds itself in near diplomatic isolation.
Latest media reports from Kabul and Beijing indicate ‘good’ progress on Chinese investments and reconstruction projects, reported Policy Research Group – Poreg.
When the West, led by the United States, pulled out of Afghanistan after two decades of military intervention, it left a vacuum. The Americans had put some USD 2.3 trillion into the war, engaged in nation-building, and tried to turn Afghanistan into a friendly democracy.
Behind the scenes, however, China is striving to partially fill the Americans’ vacuum.
Politically, Beijing is seeking solidarity with the Taliban; economically, the Chinese want to get involved in mining and trade. Politically, too, China seeks proximity to the Taliban. Months ago, Beijing called for Afghanistan’s internationally frozen assets to be released and for sanctions to be lifted. (ANI)