According to Bloomberg, with the first train last week pulling in to Hairatan, northern Afghanistan, China marked another advance in President Xi Jinping’s Silk Road project to deepen his nation’s influence along old trade routes. For Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the new link also marks a small step toward a dream of turning his landlocked country into a transit hub of Asia. The train, carrying $4 million worth of commercial goods such as fabric, clothes and construction material, took just two weeks to arrive from the east coast of China. Already the top investor in the war-torn country to its west, China is aiming to boost its commercial standing, as the no. 5 trading partner currently. Deepening those ties would help Afghanistan pare back the influence of Pakistan.