Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives in Islamabad today, where he’s expected to engage in trilateral talks with Afghani and Pakistani leaders.
This meeting means the 22nd round of Aksai China and Arunachal border talks between Beijing and New Delhi, which were expected this coming week, will be delayed. This is the latest sign of a strengthening Pakistani-Chinese relationship as a force to combat India’s interests in Jammu and Kashmir. The border tension escalated recently when India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy under Article 370.
However, the biggest focus of today’s meeting will be the US-Taliban peace deal. If signed, which is not yet guaranteed, a third of US troops will withdraw from Afghanistan within five months. The trilateral talks will likely focus on Pakistan and China’s investing in Afghanistan’s development, with Beijing pushing for Kabul to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure projects.
Though Aksai China and Arunachal are not major priorities for Beijing, its deep embedment in Chinese nationalism means any concessions are unlikely. With the US likely to withdraw its military presence from Afghanistan in the medium term, expect Beijing to focus on building strong economic and diplomatic relations with both Kabul and Islamabad.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.