- India-Afghanistan launched new air cargo corridor
- Allows them to bypass Pakistan for trade
- China says India trying to compete with its huge economic corridor
A leading Chinese newspaper, Global Times, which is state-run, described the air corridor, which opened last week, as an attempt by India to counter China's ambitious $54 billion economic corridor that runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The air corridor, the newspaper said, exhibits India's "stubborn geopolitical thinking."
The air freight corridor is designed to boost bilateral trade and give landlocked Afghanistan more access to the huge India market. So far, Pakistan has imposed strict limits on the shipment of goods by land between India and Afghanistan.
India has objected to China's "Belt and Road" project, a massive initiative to open land and sea corridors linking China with the rest of Asia, because a key part of the construction of road and rail networks runs through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. In a huge snub to China, India did not attend a summit in Beijing earlier this month that saw 60 countries including the US attending the session on President Xi Jinping's signature project.
The Global Times said, "No matter how India is thinking, if the country really wants to participate more in regional economic development, it should not bypass Pakistan, which offers the most efficient and cost-effective land route," it said.
India is also working with Afghanistan and Iran for the development of the Chabahar port, which, again, would allow it to open a transport corridor to the resource-rich countries of Central Asia that bypasses Pakistan. Located in Iran, the Chabahar port lies barely 60 miles from Gwadar port in Pakistan which is being developed by China.
India committed $500 million to speed development of the port after sanctions on Iran were lifted following a deal struck between major powers and Tehran to curb its nuclear program in 2015.
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