Sunday, November 9, 2014

Istanbul Process comes to Beijing, marking new role for China in Middle East

Want China Times - 2014-11-01

That the Fourth Foreign Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process was held in Beijing on Friday suggests that China's diplomatic efforts on Afghanistan have paid off, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.  This suggests that Beijing will lead the next stage of the Afghanistan Reconstruction and fill the void left by departing NATO troops, which are being gradually pulled out of the country.  Beijing has been expanding China's economic and diplomatic influence on Afghanistan since 2012, securing the rights to excavate multiple copper mines and oil fields in the country and local infrastructure and telecommunication projects. China stepped up its efforts this year since India, Iran and Pakistan have shown tremendous interest in Afghanistan.  Retired political heavyweight Zhou Yongkang, who is currently under investigation for graft, played a key role in fostering relations between China and Afghanistan, said Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao. Zhou made an unexpected visit to Kabul in September 2012. Zhou was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Afghanistan since 1966.