【Global Times】China-Afghanistan-Pakistan meeting injects stability into the region

2023-05-08 12:11:07 ciwa

By Chen Qingqing

Published: May 07, 2023 11:10 PM

China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue Photo: Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang hailed the successful holding of the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue on Saturday, signaling the resumption of trilateral cooperation mechanisms and Chinese experts view it as of great significance to inject stability into the region and help increase mutual trust between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have encountered border disputes over the past few years.

Since the Ukraine crisis, global security is facing more challenges, and for the three neighboring countries, it is highly necessary to jointly safeguard regional security, some experts said. The resumption of the trilateral mechanism shows that the three countries are willing to jointly tackle security challenges and normalize such mechanisms in tackling regional and hotspot issues.

After China proposed a position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and successfully brokered talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran talks to allow a resumption of diplomatic ties, China's role has been further affirmed and also highly expected in trilateral mechanisms. Afghanistan and Pakistan both show willingness to implement the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and Global Development Initiative on the basis of dialogue and negotiation to tackle security and development challenges, experts said.  

The Chinese side promised to strengthen trilateral cooperation with Afghanistan and Pakistan on security and counter-terrorism, uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, and firmly oppose any form of terrorism and "double standards" on fighting terrorism, Qin said when attending the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in the Pakistani capital on Saturday with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Acting Foreign Minister of the Afghan interim government Amir Khan Muttaqi.

China is willing to strengthen strategic communication and policy coordination with Afghanistan and Pakistan through the trilateral cooperation mechanism, so as to boost good-neighborliness and strategic mutual trust, Qin noted.

"Over the past few years, Pakistan and Afghanistan had severe conflicts and disputes over the borderlines, and the trilateral meeting itself was a rare opportunity to promote peace and talks," Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Also, they have differences on the recognition of terrorism, especially under external interference when countries like the US and India hold double standards on the matter, so China released a signal that could be seen as a step forward in coordinating the stances of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Zhu said.  

Besides the trilateral meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin also met Muttaqi and jointly held the fourth round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Zardari on Saturday. A joint statement was released following the meeting between Qin and Zardari, emphasizing the firm support for each other on issues concerning each other's core interests and agreeing to deepen cooperation and advance the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbors of China, sharing good political relations with China, and they are also aware of China's role in not only mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran but also on the Ukraine crisis, so they both have expectations for China, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The trilateral meeting shows that the two countries are willing to work with China in tackling regional issues and enhancing communication and policy coordination, signaling their enhanced confidence in China's diplomatic role," Qian said, noting that such neighborly and mini-multilateral mechanisms could be normalized.

During the meeting, the three foreign ministers agreed to uphold good-neighborliness and friendship, deepen political mutual trust, respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and properly address differences and disputes through equal consultation.

They also made it clear to oppose interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs, illegal unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan, and all acts that undermine regional peace and stability.

In mid-April, China released an 11-point paper to fully elaborate its position on the Afghan issue and express firm support for the reconstruction of the war-torn country, which are seen as concrete measures to push further coordination on Afghan issues and together with regional countries, help with Afghanistan's reconstruction and revitalization.

"On the Afghan issue, China's stance should be viewed comprehensively, as it has been playing a constructive, inclusive and active role, including its expectation and hopes for the Afghan interim government," Zhu said.

Some India media outlets hyped that China was reiterating that "the Kashmir dispute was left over from history and should be properly and peacefully resolved in accordance with the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements." Both sides oppose any unilateral actions that further complicate the already volatile situation.

India is most likely to issue a statement as it has on previous Pakistan-China joint statements, as it rejected references to the matter before, Indian news site The Wire said on Sunday.

"This statement on Kashmir is also China's consistent attitude toward the Kashmir issue in recent years. It encourages the two parties concerned in Kashmir issue to peacefully resolve differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, which is also one of the core concepts and essentials of China's GSI," Qian said.