UNITED NATIONS – The United States and China clashed Friday over Beijing’s $ 1 trillion global “belt and road” infrastructure program after the Security Council unanimously approved a rudimentary resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations political mission in Afghanistan for six months.
Last year’s resolution extending the mission’s mandate for one year welcomed and urged further efforts to strengthen regional economic cooperation involving Afghanistan, including through the massive belt and road initiative. to connect China with Europe, Africa and other parts of Asia. The 2016 and 2017 council resolutions had similar language.
Council diplomats said China wanted “belt and road” language included in this year’s resolution – but the United States opposed it.
US Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the council after the vote that “China is holding the resolution hostage and insisting that it is about China’s national political priorities rather than the Afghan people.”
A map depicting China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, or the “One Belt, One Road” megaproject, is on display at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China on 18 January 2016.
He said the Trump administration opposed China’s demand “for the resolution to highlight its Belt and Road Initiative, despite its tenuous ties to Afghanistan and known issues of corruption, over-indebtedness, environmental damage and lack of transparency “.
Deputy Chinese Ambassador Wu Haitao retorted that Cohen’s remarks were “at odds with the facts and loaded with prejudice.” He also said that a council member – almost certainly referring to the United States – “poisoned the atmosphere” which led to the council’s failure to pass a substantive resolution.
Wu noted that since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative six years ago, 123 countries and 29 international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China on joint development programs.
Workers inspect the railway tracks, which are part of the Belt and Road freight route between Chongqing and Duisburg, at Dazhou station in Sichuan province, China, March 14, 2019.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is conducive to the reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan,” Wu said. “Within this framework, China and Afghanistan will continue to strengthen cooperation in various fields, to promote the economic and social development of the country and the integration of Afghanistan into regional development.
He stressed that the program “has nothing to do with geopolitics”.
German Ambassador to the UN Christoph Heusgen, who drafted the resolution with Indonesian Ambassador to the UN Dian Djani, regretted that “issues that have nothing to do” with the work of the maintenance mission UN peace in Afghanistan make it impossible to pass a substantive resolution.
“We deeply regret that topics such as the upcoming elections (in Afghanistan), the participation of women in the Afghan peace process, the situation of children in armed conflicts, the link between climate change and security, are no longer reflected in this resolution. “said Heusgen.
A man walks past a government propaganda billboard promoting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature “One Belt One Road” outside a subway station in Beijing, August 28, 2018.
The resolution extends UNAMA’s mission until September 17, 2019 and underlines “the central importance of a comprehensive and inclusive political process led and controlled by the Afghans towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict and a comprehensive political settlement.” And he welcomes “progress in this regard”.
But Heusgen said the text was not satisfactory for any of the 15 board members.
He expressed hope that over the next six months, the most powerful body of the UN would be able to overcome its differences and pass a resolution that also reflects the peace process and the upcoming elections.