BRI vs New Quad for Afghanistan’s coming boom

BRI vs New Quad for Afghanistan’s coming boom

July 26, 2021

The race is already on to build and extend Afghanistan’s shattered infrastructure as rival powers advance competing initiatives

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Over a week ago the excruciatingly slow Doha peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban resumed, and then they dragged on for two days observed by envoys from the EU, US and UN.

Nothing happened. They could not even agree on a ceasefire during Eid al-Adha. Worse, there’s no road map for how negotiations might pick up in August. Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada duly released a statement: the Taliban “strenuously favors a political settlement.”

But how? Irreconcilable differences rule. Realpolitik dictates there’s no way the Taliban will embrace Western liberal democracy: They want the restoration of an Islamic emirate.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, for his part, is damaged goods even in Kabul diplomatic circles where he’s derided as too stubborn, not to mention incapable of rising to the occasion. The only possible solution in the short term is seen as an interim government.

Yet there is no leader around with national appeal – no Commander Massoud figure. There are only regional warlords – whose militias protect their own local interests, not distant Kabul.

While facts on the ground spell out balkanization, the Taliban, even on the offensive, know they cannot possibly pull off a military takeover of Afghanistan.

And when the Americans say they will continue to “support Afghan government forces,” that means still bombing, but from over the horizon and now under new Centcom management in Qatar.

Russia, China, Pakistan and the Central Asian “stans” – everyone is trying hard to circumvent the stalemate. Shadow play, as usual, has been in full effect. Take for instance the crucial meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (former Soviet states) – nearly simultaneous with the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe and the subsequent Central Asia-South Asia connectivity conference in Tashkent.

The CSTO summit was 100% leak-proof. And yet, previously, they had discussed “possibilities of using the potential of the CSTO member states” to keep the highly volatile Tajik-Afghan border under control.

That’s very serious business. A task force headed by Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, the chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, is in charge of “joint measures” to police the borders.

Now enter an even more intriguing shadowplay gambit – met with a non-denial denial by both Moscow and Washington.

The Kommersant newspaper revealed that Moscow offered some “hospitality” to the Pentagon at its military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (both SCO member states). The objective: keep a joint eye on the fast-evolving Afghan chessboard – and prevent drug mafia cartels, Islamists of the ISIS-Khorasan variety and refugees from crossing the borders of these Central Asian ‘stans.

What the Russians are aiming at – non-denial denial withstanding – is not to let the Americans off the hook for the “mess” (copyright Sergey Lavrov) in Afghanistan while preventing them from reestablishing any offshoot of the Empire of Bases in Central Asia.

They established bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan after 2001, although they had to be abandoned later in 2004 and 2014. What is clear is there’s absolutely no chance the US will re-establish military bases in SCO and CSTO member nations.

Birth of a new Quad

At the Central Asia-South Asia 2021 meeting in Tashkent, right after the SCO meeting in Dushanbe, something quite intriguing happened: the birth of a new Quad (forget that one in the Indo-Pacific).

This is how it was spun by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs: a “historic opportunity to open flourishing international trade routes, [and] the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties.”

If that sounds like something straight out of the Belt and Road Initiative, well, here’s the confirmation by the Pakistani Foreign Office:

“Representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity. The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.”

The US doing Belt and Road right into China’s alley? A State Department tweet confirmed it. Call it a geopolitical case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Now this is probably the only issue that virtually all players on the Afghanistan chessboard agree: a stable Afghanistan turbo-charging the flow of cargo across a vital hub of Eurasia integration.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has been very consistent: the Taliban regard China as a “friend” to Afghanistan and are eager to have Beijing investing in reconstruction work “as soon as possible.”

The question is what Washington aims to accomplish with this new Quad – for the moment just on paper. Simple: to throw a monkey wrench into the works of the SCO, led by Russia-China, and the main forum organizing a possible solution for the Afghan drama.

In this sense, the US versus Russia-China competition in the Afghan theater totally fits the Build Back Better World (B3W) gambit, which aims – at least in thesis – to offer an alternative infrastructure plan to Belt and Road and pitch it to nations from the Caribbean and Africa to the Asia-Pacific.

What is not in question is that a stable Afghanistan is essential in terms of establishing full rail-road connectivity from resource-rich Central Asia to the Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gwadar, and beyond to global markets.

For Pakistan, what happens next is a certified geoeconomic win-win – whether via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a flagship Belt and Road project, or via the new, incipient Quad.

China will be funding the highly strategic Peshawar-Kabul motorway. Peshawar is already linked to CPEC. The completion of the motorway will symbolically seal Afghanistan as part of CPEC. 

And then there’s the delightfully named Pakafuz, which refers to the trilateral deal signed in February between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to build a railway – a fundamentally strategic connection between Central and South Asia.

Full connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia also happens to be a key plank of the Russian master strategy, the Greater Eurasia Partnership, which interacts with Belt and Road in multiple ways.

Lavrov spent quite some time in the Central Asia-South Asia summit in Tashkent explaining the integration of the Greater Eurasia Partnership and Belt and Road with the SCO and the Eurasia Economic Union.

Lavrov also referred to the Uzbek proposal “to align the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Europe-West China corridor with new regional projects.” Everything is interlinked, any way you look at it.

Watching the geoeconomic flow

The new Quad is in fact a latecomer in terms of the fast-evolving geopolitical transmutation of the Heartland. The whole process is being driven by China and Russia, which are jointly managing key Central Asian affairs.

Already in early June, a very important China-Pakistan-Afghanistan joint statement stressed how Kabul will be profiting from trade via the CPEC’s port of Gwadar.

And then, there’s Pipelineistan.

On July 16, Islamabad and Moscow signed a mega-deal for a US$3 billion, 1100-kilometer gas pipeline between Port Qasim in Karachi and Lahore, to be finished by the end of 2023.

The pipeline will transport imported LNG from Qatar arriving at Karachi’s LNG terminal. This is the Pakstream Gas Pipeline Project – locally known as the North-South Gas project.

The interminable Pipelineistan war between IPI (India-Pakistan-Iran) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) – which I followed in detail for years – seems to have ended with a third-way winner.

As much as the Kabul government, the Taliban seem to be paying very close attention to all the geoeconomics and how Afghanistan is at the heart of an inevitable economic boom.

Perhaps both sides should also be paying close attention to someone like Zoon Ahmed Khan, a very bright Pakistani woman who is a research fellow with the Belt and Road Initiative Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

Pakistani naval personnel stand guard near a ship carrying containers at the Gwadar port, 700kms west of Karachi, where a trade program between Pakistan and China operates. Photo: AFP/Aamir Qureshi

Zoon Ahmed Khan notes how “one significant contribution that China makes through the BRI is emphasizing on the fact that developing countries like Pakistan have to find their own development path, rather than follow a Western model of governance.”

She adds, “The best thing Pakistan can learn from the Chinese model is to come up with its own model. China does not wish to impose its journey and experience on other countries, which is quite important.”

She is adamant that Belt and Road “is benefiting a much greater region than Pakistan. Through the initiative, what China tries to do is to present the partner countries with its experience and the things it can offer.”

All of the above definitely applies to Afghanistan – and its convoluted but ultimately inevitable insertion into the ongoing process of Eurasia integration.

Sitrep: Here Comes China: Space, Trade, Encirclement and Tibet

May 22, 2021

Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Further selections and editorial commentary by Amarynth.


Space News

The Zhurong rover touched down May 15 on Mars and signaled ground control 320 million kilometers away. After diagnostic tests, it will spend 90 days exploring and analyzing the area, climate, magnetic field and subsurface. The Tianwen-1 orbiter is changing its trajectory so Zhurong can transmit high-resolution photos.

 Read full article $→

“The mission is very ambitious. They plan to do, in one go, three steps NASA took several decades to achieve: getting into orbit, landing on the surface and then driving a rover around,” said Roberto Orosei, from the Institute for Radioastronomy in Bologna, Italy. Other space milestones this past year include the final BeiDou GPS satellite and the first of 11 launches to build a Space StationRead full article →

Update from RT this morning:  “China’s Mars rover rolls off landing platform, joining US robots patrolling Red Planet”

https://www.rt.com/news/524522-chinese-rover-rolls-platform/

The Tianhe core module cabin of China’s space station project has completed in-orbit performance checks, including rendezvous and docking, life support systems for astronauts and robotic arms, as well as a series of space application equipment examinations. 

Read full article →


At $23 billion, China is the world’s largest ice cream market. Competitors include Mengniu Dairy, Yili, Guanming, and Sanyuan, along with foreign giants like Nestlé and Unilever. US ice cream sales average $7 billion annually. Read full article →

A record 9.09 million university students will graduate this year and Vice Premier Sun Chunlan says,  “Go to central and western regions where the country needs you” (and where there are 1.4 available jobs per graduate). Read full article →

The EU’s goods trade surged in Q1 and China remained its top trade partner, with imports and exports both increasing 20% YoY. The US followed, with both imports and exports shrinking. Read full article $→

US importers paid 90% of tariff costs on Chinese goods, or 18.5% more for Chinese products subject to the 20% tariff. Chinese exporters receive 1.5% less for the same product. Read full article $→

US exports to China of wine, cotton, log timber and wood have increased over the past year after Beijing blocked those products from Australia. The US is prioritising its own economic interests over its ally’s, despite Antony Blinken’s promise that Washington would not leave Australia to face ‘economic coercion’ from Beijing. Read full article $→

Supplies of Russian agricultural products to China increased by 17.6% in Q1. Trade turnover reached $40.207 billion, 20% higher YoY. The two aim to double 2021 trade to $200 billion. Read full article $→


Presidents Xi and Putin launched construction on four nuclear reactors made with Russian technology: two reactors each in Jiangsu and Liaoning Provinces, set to begin 2026 – 2028. They will be powered by Rosatom’s 3G pressurized water reactor technology at a  cost of $1.7 billion per site. Read full article $→


US Encirclement of China: A Progress Report

We will post this long-read article by Brian Berletic in full as the New Eastern Outlook site has been down for a number of days.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing are not merely the recent results of former US President Donald Trump’s time in office – but rather just the latest chapter in US efforts to contain China that stretch back decades.

Indeed, US foreign policy has for decades admittedly aimed at encircling and containing China’s rise and maintaining primacy over the Indo-Pacific region.

The “Pentagon Papers” leaked in 1969 would admit in regards to the ongoing US war against Vietnam that:

…the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China.

The papers also admitted that China, “looms as a major power threatening to undercut [American] importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against [America].

The papers also made it clear that there were (and still are), “three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China: (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front.”

Since then, it is clear that from the continued US military presence in both Japan and South Korea, the now two decades-long US occupation of Afghanistan on both Pakistan’s and China’s borders, and the emergence of the so-called “Milk Tea Alliance” aimed at overthrowing Southeast Asian governments friendly with China and replacing them with US-backed client regimes – this policy to contain China endures up to today.

Assessing US activity along these three fronts reveals the progress and setbacks Washington faces – and various dangers to global peace and stability Washington’s continued belligerence pose.

The Japan-Korea Front 

Military.com in their article, “Here’s What It Costs to Keep US Troops in Japan and South Korea,” reports:

In all, more than 80,000 US troops are deployed to Japan and South Korea. In Japan alone, the US maintains more than 55,000 deployed troops — the largest forward-deployed US force anywhere in the world.

The article notes that according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US spent “$34 billion to maintain military presences in Japan and South Korea between 2016 and 2019.”

The article cites the GAO providing an explanation as to why this massive US military presence is maintained in East Asia:

“…US forces help strengthen alliances, promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, provide quick response to emergencies and are essential for US national security.”

“Alliances” that are “strengthened” by the physical presence of what are essentially occupying US forces suggests the “alliance” is hardly voluntary and claims of promoting a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” is highly subjective – begging the question of to whom the Indo-Pacific is “free and open” to.

And as US power wanes both regionally in the Indo-Pacific as well as globally, Washington has placed increasing pressure on both Japan and South Korea to not only help shoulder this financial burden, but to also become more proactive within Washington’s containment strategy toward China.

Japan is one of three other nations (the US itself, Australia, and India) drafted into the US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – also know as the “Quad.”

Rather than the US solely depending on its own military forces based within Japanese territory or supported by its Japan-based forces, Japan’s military along with India’s and Australia’s are also being recruited to take part in military exercises and operations in and around the South China Sea.

India’s inclusion in the Quad also fits well into the US 3-front strategy that made up Washington’s containment policy toward China as early as the 1960s.

The India-Pakistan Front 

In addition to recruiting India into the Quad alliance, the US helps encourage escalation through political support and media campaigning of India’s various territorial disputes with China.

The US also targets Pakistan’s close and ongoing relationship with China – including the support of armed insurgents in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

Recently, a bombing at a hotel in Quetta, Baluchistan appears to have targeted China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Ambassador Nong Rong.

The BBC in its article, “Pakistan hotel bomb: Deadly blast hits luxury venue in Quetta,” would claim:

Initial reports had suggested the target was China’s ambassador.

Ambassador Nong Rong is understood to be in Quetta but was not present at the hotel at the time of the attack on Wednesday.

The article also noted:

Balochistan province, near the Afghan border, is home to several armed groups, including separatists.

Separatists in the region want independence from the rest of Pakistan and accuse the government and China of exploiting Balochistan, one of Pakistan’s poorest provinces, for its gas and mineral wealth.

Absent from the BBC’s reporting is the extensive and open support the US government has provided these separatists over the years and how – clearly – this is more than just a local uprising against perceived injustice, but yet another example of armed conflict-by-proxy waged by Washington against China.

As far back as 2011 publications like The National Interest in articles like, “Free Baluchistan” would openly advocate expanding US support for separatism in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

The article was written by the late Selig  Harrison – who was a senior fellow at the US-based corporate-financier funded Center for International Policy – and would claim:

Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve US strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.

Of course, “Islamist forces” is a euphemism for US-Persian Gulf state sponsored militants used to both fight Western proxy wars as well as serve as a pretext for Western intervention. Citing “Islamist forces” in Baluchistan, Pakistan clearly serves as an example of the latter.

In addition to op-eds published by influential policy think tanks, US legislators like US Representative Dana Rohrabacher had proposed resolutions such as (emphasis added),

“US House of Representatives Concurrent Resolution 104 (112th): Expressing the sense of Congress that the people of Baluchistan, currently divided between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country.”

There is also funding provided to adjacent, political groups supporting separatism in Baluchistan, Pakistan as listed by the US government’s own National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website under “Pakistan.” Organizations like the “Association for Integrated Development Balochistan” are funded by the US government and used to mobilize people politically, constituting clear interference by the US in Pakistan’s internal political affairs.

The Gwadar Port project is a key juncture within China’s growing global network of infrastructure projects as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative. The US clearly opposes China’s rise and has articulated robust strategies to counter it; everything up to and including open war as seen in the Pentagon Papers regarding the Vietnam War.

The recent bombing in Baluchistan, Pakistan demonstrates that this strategy continues in regards to utilizing local militants to target Chinese-Pakistani cooperation and is one part of the much wider, region-wide strategy of encircling and containing China.

The Southeast Asia Front

Of course the US war against Vietnam was part of a wider effort to reassert Western primacy over Southeast Asia and deny the region from fueling China’s inevitable rise.

The US having lost the war and almost completely retreating from the Southeast Asia region saw Southeast Asia itself repair relations amongst themselves and with China.

Today, the nations of Southeast Asia count China as their largest trade partner, investor, a key partner in infrastructure development, a key supplier for the region’s armed forces, as well as providing the majority of tourism arrivals throughout the region. For countries like Thailand, more tourists arrive from China than from all Western nations combined.

Because existing governments in Southeast Asia have nothing to benefit from by participating in American belligerence toward China, the US has found it necessary to cultivate and attempt to install into power various client regimes. This has been an ongoing process since the Vietnam War.

The US has targeted each nation individually for years. In 2009 and 2010, US-backed opposition leader-in-exile Thaksin Shinawatra deployed his “red shirt” protesters in back-to-back riots – the latter of which included some 300 armed militants and culminated in city-wide arson across Bangkok and the death of over 90 police, soldiers, protesters, and bystanders.

In 2018, US-backed opposition groups took power in Malaysia after the US poured millions of dollars for over a decade in building up the opposition.

Daniel Twining of the US National Endowment for Democracy subsidiary – the International Republican Institute – admitted during a talk (starting at 56 minutes) by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that same year that:

…for 15 years working with NED resources, we worked to strengthen Malaysian opposition parties and guess what happened two months ago after 61 years? They won.

He would elaborate on how the NED’s network played a direct role in placing US-backed opposition figures into power within the Malaysian government, stating:

I visited and I was sitting there with many of the leaders the new leaders of this government, many of whom were just our partners we had been working with for 15 years and one of the most senior of them who’s now one of the people running the government said to me, ‘gosh IRI you never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves.’

Far from “promoting freedom” in Malaysia – Twining would make clear the ultimate objective of interfering in Malaysia’s internal political affairs was to serve US interests not only in regards to Malaysia, but in regards to the entire region and specifically toward encircling and containing China.

Twining would boast:

…guess what one of the first steps the new government took? It froze Chinese infrastructure investments.

And that:

[Malaysia] is not a hugely pro-American country. It’s probably never going to be an actual US ally, but this is going to redound to our benefit, and and that’s an example of the long game.

It is a pattern that has repeated itself in Myanmar over the decades with NED money building a parallel political system within the nation and eventually leading to Aung San Suu Kyi and her US-backed National League for Democracy (NLD) party taking power in 2016.

For Myanmar, so deep and extensive is US backing for opposition groups there that elections virtually guarantee US-backed candidates win every single time. The US National Endowment for Democracy’s own website alone lists over 80 programs and organizations receiving US government money for everything from election polling and building up political parties, to funding media networks and “environmental” groups used to block Chinese-initiated infrastructure projects.

The move by Myanmar’s military in February this year, ousting Aung Sang Suu Kyi and the NLD was meant to correct this.

However, in addition to backing political groups protesting in the streets, the US has – for many decades – backed and armed ethnic rebels across the country. These rebels have now linked up with the US-backed NLD and are repeating US-backed regime change tactics used against the Arab World in 2011 in nations like Libya, Yemen, and Syria – including explicit calls for “international intervention.”

A US-Engineered “Asia Spring”  

Just as the US did during the 2011 “Arab Spring” – the US State Department, in a bid to create synergies across various regime change campaigns in Asia, has introduced the “Milk Tea Alliance” to transform individual US-backed regime change efforts in Asia into a region-wide crisis.

The BBC itself admits in articles like, “Milk Tea Alliance: Twitter creates emoji for pro-democracy activists,” that:

The alliance has brought together anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong and Taiwan with pro-democracy campaigners in Thailand and Myanmar.

Omitted from the BBC’s coverage of the “Milk Tea Alliance” (intentionally) is the actual common denominators that unite it – US funding through fronts like the National Endowment for Democracy and a unifying hatred of China based exclusively on talking points pushed by the US State Department itself.

Circling back to the Pentagon Papers and recalling the coordinated, regional campaign the US sought to encircle China with – we can then look at more recent US government policy papers like the “Indo-Pacific Framework” published in the White House archives from the Trump administration.

The policy paper’s first bullet point asks:

How to maintain US strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region and promote a liberal economic order while preventing China from establishing new, illiberal spheres of influence, and cultivating areas of cooperation to promote regional peace and prosperity?

The paper also discusses information campaigns designed to “educate” the world about “China’s coercive behaviour and influence operations around the globe.” These campaigns have materialized in a propaganda war fabricating accusations of “Chinese genocide” in Xinjiang, China, claims that Chinese telecom company Huawei is a global security threat, and that China – not the US – is the single largest threat to global peace and stability today.

In reality US policy aimed at encircling China is predicated upon Washington’s desire to continue its own decades-long impunity upon the global stage and the continuation of all the wars, humanitarian crises, and abuses that have stemmed from it.

Understanding the full scope of Washington’s “competition” with China helps unlock the confusion surrounding unfolding individual crises like the trade war, the ongoing violence and turmoil in Myanmar, bombings in southwest Pakistan, students mobs in Thailand, riots in Hong Kong, and attempts by the US to transform the South China Sea into an international conflict.

Understanding that these events are all connected – then assessing the success or failure of US efforts gives us a clearer picture of the overall success Washington in encircling China.  It also gives governments and regional blocs a clearer picture of how to manage policy in protecting against US subversion that threatens national, regional, and global peace and stability.

Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.


BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) — China’s State Council Information Office on Friday issued a white paper on the peaceful liberation of Tibet and its development over the past seven decades.

The white paper, titled “Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity,” reviewed Tibet’s history and achievements, and presented a true and panoramic picture of the new socialist Tibet.

You may Download the Full Text or read this very interesting document here: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2021-05/21/c_139959978.htm

It consists of the following:

Foreword

I. Tibet Before the Peaceful Liberation

II. Peaceful Liberation

III. Historic Changes in Society

IV. Rapid Development of Various Undertakings

V. A Complete Victory over Poverty

VI. Protection and Development of Traditional Culture

VII. Remarkable Results in Ethnic and Religious Work

VIII. Solid Environmental Safety Barriers

IX. Resolutely Safeguarding National Unity and Social Stability

X. Embarking on a New Journey in the New Era

Conclusion


This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

BRI-LED REGIONALIZATION ROLLS ON AS GWADAR PORT OPENS AFGHAN TRADE TO THE WORLD

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

29 APRIL 2020

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated.

The speculative talk about the coronavirus supposedly signaling the impending end of globalization was thrown into doubt last week after Gwadar Port was opened to Afghanistan. That facility is the terminal point of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will be used to facilitate trade with the South Asian state’s landlocked neighbor, according to the announcement by Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser for commerce and investment to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He also said that “16,000 MT of diamonium phosphate and World Food Programme cargo of 500,000 MT of wheat for Afghanistan will arrive next month” and that “Ships from China will also offload at Gwadar.” This development is remarkable in more ways than one and thus deserves to be analyzed a bit more in depth in order for the reader to better understand its grand strategic significance in the context of contemporary geopolitics.

First off, it’s especially important that war-torn Afghanistan will receive much-needed aid through this port. Those supplies will help its people better survive the hardships that they’ve been experiencing for decades already, and they come at a crucial time when the country is struggling to counter COVID-19. Not only could Gwadar become a humanitarian lifeline for Afghanistan, but also an economic one too since it opens up its trade to the rest of the world and can therefore help it rebuild after the war finally ends.

The very fact that CPEC is expanding along the northern vector suggests that a branch corridor prospectively called N-CPEC+ could enter into fruition in the future if the project expands into the Central Asian Republics and even further afield to Russia, thus creating a new North-South connectivity corridor in the Eurasian Heartland. Even in the event that the aforementioned scenario doesn’t unfold right way, it’s still noteworthy that BRI’s flagship project is strengthening regionalization between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This objective observation powerfully refutes the rumors that globalization is destined to die due to the consequences of the world’s uncoordinated lockdowns in response to COVID-19. There will always be a need for countries to import whatever they can’t make at home and export the wares that they produce abroad, which in the Afghan context refers to agricultural imports and prospective mineral exports via CPEC. The present lockdowns will inevitably end, after which globalization will resume, bolstered by regionalization.

Regionalization and globalization are two sides of the same coin since they both involve international trade, albeit to differing geographic extents made obvious by their names. There’s some credence to the claims that regionalization will benefit more in the short term than globalization, though the success of regionalization would strengthen globalization through the creation of more consolidated economic spaces. In the present example, CPEC brings China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan closer together, thus boosting trade between all three.

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, as was earlier explained, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated. Both interconnected trends are pivotal to the world’s economic recovery, and seeing as how they’re being championed by China, it can be said that the People’s Republic is taking the leading role in helping humanity return back to normal.

With all of this in mind, while casual observers might have dismissed the opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan as an unimportant event compared to everything else going on in the world nowadays (if they were even aware of it in the first place, that is), it’s actually one of the most significant non-health-related developments of the year. China showed that its desire to create a Community of Common Destiny through BRI hasn’t slowed down as a result of the virus, which speaks to its commitment to carry through with this noble vision no matter what.

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