With a $62 billion investment plan, the Chinese regime is making a move in Afghanistan, following the announcement of the departure of US troops on Friday 2 July, to continue to extend its tentacles through its Belt and Road program in the war-torn country, the Daily Mail reported.

The new multi-billion-dollar plan between China and the authorities in Kabul is considering extending a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by building a major highway between Afghanistan and the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. The mega strategic infrastructure project is reportedly intended to reach completion by 2049.

According to media reports, the CCP has been trying to extend its strategic project to Afghanistan for at least five years, but the U.S. presence was an impediment. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed last month that China was holding talks with third parties, including Afghanistan.

So, now that U.S. troops have left Bagram airbase, China would be welcomed with open arms and could, through the BRI, build the link between Asia, Africa, and Europe through land and sea networks spanning 60 countries.

In this regard, South Asia expert Michael Kugelman said, “Washington’s departure from Afghanistan gives Beijing a strategic opportunity.”

But in his view, the CCP’s success with negotiations in Afghanistan will depend in large part on reaching an understanding with the Taliban. 

He noted that the Taliban are not the only challenge to be overcome. For Kugelman, there are many anti- and pro-state violence sources in Afghanistan, so China will continue to face an extremely insecure environment, even if it can get the Taliban to accept its projects.

Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping launched the ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ (BRI) infrastructure development project in 2013 to better connect China to the rest of the world and achieve global dominance.

Generally, the CCP gains control of infrastructure works to benefit its own economy, with jobs going to Chinese workers and subcontracting to companies linked to the regime. It also offers huge loans to countries that ‘welcome’ it to gain ground in their control.

Another of the Chinese regime’s strategies in such negotiations is to finance the elites of democratically weak countries to obtain their silence in the face of serious human rights violations carried out by the CCP and thus facilitate the approval of its controversial loans.

So joining the ‘Belt and Road’ means shaking hands with a dictatorship that not only profits from those who open their doors to them but is also being singled out for the exploitation of its own workers.

A report published by The BL last month reveals the appalling conditions in which some of China’s overseas workers, who are building the CCP’s mega infrastructure projects, find themselves.  

According to testimonies, most were deceptively recruited with promises of certain wages and legal work visas. However, upon arrival in the host countries, their passports were confiscated, and if they wanted to leave, they had to pay a hefty fine to the Chinese employer.

They also warned about the inhumane treatment they are subjected to, with poor living and working conditions, excessive working hours of up to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, without holiday leave. 

The data on human rights abuses in China are chilling. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, it is estimated that in 2016 more than 3.8 million people were living in conditions of ‘modern slavery’ in China, a prevalence of 2.8 victims per 1,000 people in the country. This estimate does not include figures on organ trafficking, it was noted.