China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 bln economic corridor

(L to R) Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif attend a joint news conference after the 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Beijing, China, December 26, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 26 December 2017
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China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 bln economic corridor

BEIJING: China and Pakistan will look at extending their $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond.
China has tried to position itself as a helpful party to promote talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both uneasy neighbors ever since Pakistan’s independence in 1947.
Their ties have been poisoned in recent years by Afghan accusations that Pakistan is supporting Taliban insurgents fighting the US-backed Kabul in order to limit the influence of its old rival, India, in Afghanistan.
Pakistan denies that and says it wants to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan.
Speaking after the first trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wang said China hoped the economic corridor could benefit the whole region and act as an impetus for development.
Afghanistan has urgent need to develop and improve people’s lives and hopes it can join inter-connectivity initiatives, Wang told reporters, as he announced that Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to mend their strained relations.
“So China and Pakistan are willing to look at with Afghanistan, on the basis of win-win, mutually beneficial principles, using an appropriate means to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan,” he added.
How that could happen needs the three countries to reach a gradual consensus, tackling easier, smaller projects first, Wang said, without giving details.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said his country and China were “iron brothers,” but did not directly mention the prospect of Afghanistan joining the corridor.
“The successful implementation of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects will serve as a model for enhancing connectivity and cooperation through similar projects with neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and with central and west Asia,” he said.
India has looked askance at the project as parts of it run through Pakistan-administered Kashmir that India considers its own territory, though Wang said the plan had nothing to do with territorial disputes.
China has sought to bring Kabul and Islamabad together partly due to Chinese fears about the spread of Islamist militancy from Pakistan and Afghanistan to the unrest-prone far western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
As such, China has pushed for Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their own ties so they can better tackle the violence in their respective countries, and has also tried to broker peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants, to limited effect.
A tentative talks process collapsed in 2015.
Wang said China fully supported peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban and would continue to provide “necessary facilitation.”
The Belt and Road infrastructure drive aims to build a modern-day “Silk Road” connecting China to economies in Southeast and Central Asia by land and the Middle East and Europe by sea.


S&P warns it could downgrade Nissan ratings over Ghosn scandal

Updated 2 min 15 sec ago
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S&P warns it could downgrade Nissan ratings over Ghosn scandal

TOKYO: Ratings agency S&P warned Tuesday that Nissan faces a possible debt downgrade after its chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested for alleged financial misconduct.
S&P Global Ratings announced a “CreditWatch with negative implications” and said it “also placed all of our ratings on Nissan’s overseas subsidiaries on CreditWatch negative.”
It warned the firm’s profitability could “weaken substantially” in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 if Ghosn’s alleged misconduct affected Nissan sales or hurt its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.
It said any downgrade “is likely to be by one notch.”
“Although Nissan said it aims to identify its governance issues and hammer out preventive measures, we think rebuilding its management culture swiftly will not be easy.”
Auto titan Ghosn, who headed the automaker alliance, was arrested in Tokyo on Monday on allegations that include systematically under-reporting his income.
His detention marks a stunning fall from grace for the Brazil-born executive who is credited with resurrecting Nissan through bold restructuring measures.
Ghosn has yet to comment on the allegations against him. Nissan’s board is set to meet on Thursday to discuss dismissing him.