Delivering a speech at Xinhua University in Beijing on Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and his plans to build a thriving Afghan economy.
The speaking event was organized as part of the president's trip to China, his first official trip abroad since taking office. The visit included meetings with top Chinese officials to discuss trade and economic cooperation as well as security issues with the Taliban and Pakistan.
"We have to move out of thinking along national boundaries to continental and international cooperation; in the second decade of the 21st century, state-to-state conflict is a lose-lose proposition, the only way forward is cooperative advantage," President Ghani said. "Cooperation can have very, very significant advantages while conflict can have many, many disadvantages."
In his speech, Ghani spoke about rebuilding the Silk Road trade route that was the main highway for Asian trade for thousands of years, passing from China through Central and South Asia into the Middle East and Mediterranean region.
"China is a strategic partner for us on multiple levels, this trip is based on that previous foundation, but it's about deepening and broadening of this relationship, making the new silk road happen," Ghani said.
With the U.S. and its NATO coalition set to withdraw by the end of the year, Ghani's choice for his first official trip as president to be to China could signal the intention of broadening Afghanistan's alliances and sources of aid in its own region. In his speech at Xinhua University, Ghani stressed that Afghanistan was ready to cooperate with everyone.
"Our image of Afghanistan is that we are for cooperation with everybody, because our future - lifting from poverty to prosperity - requires cooperation," Ghani said. "But the mentality must change to see Afghanistan as the center of new economic activity."