Mon, 21 Jun 2021

Beijing [China], May 16 (ANI): China wants Central Asian countries to get involved in its Belt and Road Initiative, but fears that US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to a rise in terrorism in the region and affect its plans.

A commentary in the Global Times has elaborated on Beijing's concerns that the US pull-out "could leave chaotic situations and the region could become a breeding ground" for three evils- terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, reported Asia Times.

Besides, the Chinese experts are also worried that the hasty US pull-out might stall the Afghan peace process and engender civil-war conditions. While the US allowed the region to become a "breeding ground" for the "Three Evils" and poppy cultivation "now Washington wants to leave this mess to the regional countries."An exclusive op-ed in the Communist Party of China organ People's Daily on Friday was titled "US can't just get away from it all in Afghan issues." It concludes, "At present, the US is the biggest exterior factor of the Afghan issues. The White House shall not duck its responsibilities and get away from it all, reported Asia Times.

"Its withdrawal must be implemented in an orderly and responsible manner, and aim at preventing further escalation of violence in the country and preventing terrorist forces from ramping up and creating trouble. It shall create a favourable exterior environment for the Intra-Afghan negotiations, not the other way around."Meanwhile, MK Bhadrakumar, writing in Asia Times views second session of meeting of foreign ministers of China and the five Central Asian states on May 11 at Xian as symbolic.

The ancient city of Xian used to be the starting point of the Silk Road. And, perhaps, the timing too, as this is the 25th anniversary of the Shanghai Five process, where China, quietly but steadily, began building up its economic, military, and diplomatic relations with Central Asia and presented itself as a viable partner.

The Xian meeting was a watershed event as it created an "institutional guarantee" for the nascent "CC5" framework. The participants agreed on a memorandum of understanding to establish a regional cooperation mechanism, promote the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road and establish three research centres to carry out cooperation, reported Asia Times.

The Shanghai Five, consisting of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, also had a modest beginning in 1996 as it emerged from a series of border-demarcation and demilitarization talks that the four former Soviet republics held with China.

The institutionalization of the CC5 also marks a turning point in regional security - as the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan gets under way amid speculation that the Pentagon is looking to base facilities in Central Asian countries, wrote Bhadrakumar.

Interestingly, the shadows of the great game have appeared too. The Xian meeting came within 18 days of a similar meeting in C51 format with the participation of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (in virtual mode).

An editorial in the China Daily, the government newspaper, on Thursday flagged the high importance attached by Beijing to the CC5 diplomatic initiative. It noted that the CC5 mechanism "outlines an action plan that provides a stronger institutional guarantee for their cooperation."It highlighted a joint statement issued after the discussions as regards "their joint efforts to promote peaceful reconciliation in Afghanistan, demonstrating that the six countries will play a bigger role as a whole.... that they have agreed to establish a regular meeting mechanism of the CC5 foreign ministers indicates they are well aware of the importance of regional unity and coordination."Beijing's motivations appear to be twofold: send "a clear signal that they [CC5] stand together in opposing interference in their internal affairs, and any actions threatening their core development interests"; and, emphatically state "their common contention that Central Asia is neither a stage for any power to engineer a colour revolution nor a place where any power can attempt to sow seeds of discord," wrote Bhadrakumar.

Foreign Minister Wang stressed that it is necessary for countries neighbouring Afghanistan, including Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, "to coordinate their positions in a timely manner, speak with one voice, and fully support the Afghan domestic peace process to overcome difficulties and move forward."At the Xian meeting, Wang elaborated China's position on the Afghan peace process as such. The three key elements are: the need for inclusive political arrangements to make sure all ethnic groups and parties could participate; drafting of a constitution that conforms to unique Afghan national conditions and development needs, instead of imitating Western-style democracy; and, "moderate Muslim policy" as state ideology. (ANI)

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