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China foresees threat to BRI projects amid US drawdown from Afghanistan

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 May 2021, 10:55 IST

China has sought to step up cooperation with Central Asian countries on security issues amid fears of a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan and subsequent threat to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects in the region.

As the September 11 deadline of complete withdrawal is approaching, Beijing fears that instability in the country could give ground to Islamic fundamentalism that would spill over into China's Xinjiang province that borders the country, South China Morning Post reported.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Central Asian counterparts on Wednesday, that they should work together to crack down on terrorist forces and prevent transnational crime to create a "safe Silk Road".

"We should cooperate to prevent transnational organized crime, on drugs control, network security, managing non-governmental organizations, the security of large-scale activities and projects, and to safeguard our institutions, personnel, and facilities to create a safe Silk Road," Wang told the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the Chinese city of Xian, in Shaanxi.

Moreover, there is a looming sense of fear in Pakistan that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will increase instability in its neighbourhood, and add security threats in the region while putting Belt and Road projects at risk.

Instability in Pakistan has steadily increased, and outlawed groups like Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have increased cross-border attacks in the country, Nikkei Asia reported. According to the analyst Fakhar Kakakhel, the US pull-back, along with a weak Afghan government will seriously destabilize the region.

Last week, China had blamed the United States' "abrupt announcement of complete withdrawal of forces" for the succession of explosive attacks throughout Afghanistan, saying the step has worsened the security situation and has threatened peace and stability as well as people's lives and safety in the war-torn country.

China's reaction comes after multiple explosions at a girl's school in Kabul.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had said China was "shocked" by the attacks and "deeply saddened" by the death toll. She also called on Washington to pull out troops "in a responsible manner".

US President Joe Biden announced last month the decision to withdraw troops by September 11. The Taliban rejected President Joe Biden's announcement that troops would stay on past the deadline but withdraw over the next four and a half months.


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First published: 16 May 2021, 10:55 IST