Chinese interest in Afghanistan
Almost 20 years ago, when America had invaded Afghanistan with the endorsement of the United Nations, China was also one of those who had opposed it. Because 2 decades back Chinese interest was obscured in Afghanistan.
Now, Afghanistan is clearly a place of interest for Beijing. Connectivity and stability in the region are one the major goals of China.
Read more: Afghanistan Accusations and the Response
Over the past 2 decades China has emerged as another economic power. China is desperate to expand its trade. China cannot achieve its objectives (Regional stability and connectivity) completely unless there is peace in Afghanistan.
Via Afghanistan, it is the best route to connect China with Russia, Central Asian countries and to the gate of Europe, Turkey. Further, Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan unites 3 countries and China has deep interest in such geopolitical locations.
Read more: Afghan Withdrawal: Treat or Threat for Pakistan ?
America is leaving Afghanistan at the verge of great chaos and turmoil. All the regional stakeholders are pushing America for the political settlement in Afghanistan, especially Pakistan. Any kind of unrest will be against China’s interests in Afghanistan. More importantly, China is playing its role in Afghanistan as a soft power.
China is convinced that any military solution will not work for Afghanistan as Afghan land is better known as a graveyard of super powers. Moreover, China wants a trade route through Afghanistan which cannot go alongside the military operations.
So, what China needs in Afghanistan is complete stability and peace. But Americans do not want to indulge themselves into the political settlement of Afghanistan.
Read more: US Withdrawal from Afghanistan and its Foreign Policy; An Analysis
USA’s strongest ally India has also escaped from Afghanistan in the gloom of night. This indicates that America is just trying to leave the Afghanistan before 11 September. They are not concerned about the future of Afghanistan. This is the historical behavior of US. They leave the region in a turmoil after their misadventure.
China had been working with both Taliban and Kabul administration. Now, when American troops are exiting the US backed Kabul administration of Ashraf Ghani is falling and Taliban are occupying more districts every day. The Kabul administration has been pushed to very few districts.
Taliban are just 20 KM away from Kabul. Unstoppable march of the Taliban has made things very clear now. China abhors a power vacuum on its borders and is maintaining stability after decades of war in its western neighbor will be Beijing’s paramount consideration.
I personally reckon that China will not have any objections about the Taliban-dominated government. China is not concerned about who holds the power in Afghanistan but the risk of persistent instability. China sees India’s failure in Afghanistan as a victory of Pakistan and Pakistan has very friendly relations with the Afghan Taliban.
The enhancement of Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan will not only indirectly contribute to China’s influence but also potentially improve the negotiation positions of both Islamabad and Beijing. America is fearing that China will be empowered by the trade route via Afghanistan. Because it is bringing it closer to their dream of connecting the entire region.
This is the very reason why America was supporting India to stand against China in the region as a challenge to lure China. But India has failed the Americans. In the recent event in Tashkent, India was forcefully pushed into the discussion by the American delegates to make India relevant in the discussions about the future of the region.
America wants to stay in the region to keep Afghanistan one step away from complete peace. This is the reason they are looking for bases in the neighboring countries of Afghanistan. These are challenges China is facing to meet its interests in Afghanistan but China will play its role indirectly.
Author: Abdullah Qamar