What's new

China Will Expand into Afghanistan — and Throughout the Region

Dalit

ELITE MEMBER
Mar 16, 2012
13,618
-17
25,098
Country
Pakistan
Location
Netherlands
by Emil Avdaliani

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will create a geopolitical vacuum — the inevitable result of any withdrawal, be it physical or political. Another truism is that geopolitical vacuums, like all vacuums, never remain unfilled for long.

A key actor with regard to the Afghanistan question is China. To Beijing, Afghanistan is both a geographic corridor and a fertile ground from which security threats could emerge that threaten not only China’s hold over its restive Xinjiang province, but also its position in Central Asia — an area critical to the implementation of Xi Jinping’s signature policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China’s interests in Afghanistan, with which it shares an 80 km border, have grown complex over the past decade. The US withdrawal plans stoked both short- and long-term fears in China. First is the security issue. Afghanistan hosted alleged Uyghur extremist organizations that seek an independent Xinjiang, groups that have been blamed by Beijing for terrorist attacks that occurred in China in the 1990s-2000s. Perhaps this was behind the allegation made by the Chinese leadership that the US withdrawal plans had “led to a succession of explosive attacks throughout the country, worsening the security situation and threatening peace and stability as well as people’s lives and safety.” Indeed, on May 8, 2021, a bomb attack outside a school in Kabul killed at least 68 people and injured more than 160. Similar sentiments were shared in a recent phone call between the Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers.

China also fears that, from a decades-long perspective, the American withdrawal from the Middle East and Afghanistan might prove beneficial to Washington as it will serve two important goals for America. First, the vacuum will distract China from other regions (most notably the Pacific); and second, the US will have a freer hand and more resources available to focus on containing China in the South and East China Seas.

China is the key player here. No other power is sufficiently influential, either financially or geopolitically, to have an impact in the wake of the American departure on the entire territory from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. China has made tremendous progress in fortifying its position in this area, but it should be remembered that Beijing fears it was pushed down this road by the strength of the US and its allies in the Pacific. Indeed, it was concern about potential blowback from America on the seas in the event of conflict that caused China to look inward, to the heart of Eurasia, to offset its naval insecurities. Thence the BRI emerged.

And there was space for China to fill. Central Asia, though a traditional space for Russian geopolitical influence, was fertile ground for Chinese economic activity. The same was true for Pakistan and, more recently, Iran. Further west, Beijing’s influence has been on the rise in the Mediterranean as well.

This took place at a time when America’s unipolar aspirations had been dashed, and the invasion of Iraq and military presence in Afghanistan had undermined US authority and that of the liberal internationalism project. In the long run, this caused pushback from regional states, and there are now increasingly concerted efforts to sideline Washington altogether in both peace talks and security matters. The circumstances were propitious for China to look westward, but US pressure was instrumental in setting off the process.

The US withdrawal presents China with a striking opportunity: the promotion of an alternative world order in which the Western military presence in Asia is reduced and China has greater room for maneuver west of its borders.

This also fits the vision of other like-minded states that now are forming an illiberal movement in which the Westphalian concept of primacy and inviolability of the state and its borders is feverishly upheld. This sentiment was echoed in the initial reaction to the US announcement by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who argued that Beijing supports the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and is ready to help promote future “stability and development.” In Beijing’s view, the US presence in Afghanistan deviated long ago from its original goal of combating terrorism and turned into a geopolitical project for preventing the growth of China’s power.

Still, in the longer term, a larger involvement by China in the Afghan conundrum would distract it from other critical geopolitical theaters where it competes with the US. Thus, for China, the negative effects of the US withdrawal far outweigh the potential advantages it could bring to the Westphalian notion and general increase of Chinese power in West Asia.

What could then be a viable foreign policy option for Beijing to maintain a less harmful environment in Afghanistan? One idea propounded by analysts has been to argue that Beijing could look into transforming its fledgling and limited security presence in the north of Afghanistan into a wider military operation; i.e., a peacekeeping mission. This would depend on the level of non-state security threats, but the most likely security path Beijing would take is to merge efforts with other regional states to contain and, where necessary, wipe out terrorist and extremist cells in Afghanistan. Russia, Pakistan, and Iran would gladly work with China on this, as it would sideline the collective West and the US in particular in the region.

In a way, this motivation could bring forth a greater effort from the four participating states, as all the actors in the presumed quartet experience similar pressure (of varying degrees) from the West. They seek to establish, if not an entirely alternative world order (as in the case of China), at least a world order that is significantly remolded to suit their national interests. The quartet might even prove more effective than the Americans’ prolonged and unsuccessful state-building process in Afghanistan. Chinese analysts have already opined that cooperation between the regional states would provide a more effective security umbrella.

The quartet could forswear efforts to ban the Taliban from governing the country, but work on containing it where necessary, remaking and influencing the Taliban’s behavior so it fits the security objectives of China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran.

Disinterest in countries’ internal governing systems is a hallmark of China’s world vision, according to which economic and security cooperation is the primary driver rather than liberal proselytism (or any other kind), as was unsuccessfully pursued by the US. This could be solid ground for cooperation with whatever government will be in power in Afghanistan.

Opting for a unilateral or even a quartet-led military solution to the Afghan problem would likely prove just as ineffective for China and the other three parties as it was for America.

Another novelty China could push for is allowing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to take a more active security role in Afghanistan. This would serve as a model for similar future activities by the SCO, which has not yet had an opportunity to prove its mettle.

A more nuanced strategy would be sought — one that would make the Taliban cooperate, but more along the lines of China’s and the other potential quartet powers’ economic and security interests. It is unlikely that China will simply leave Afghanistan to its own devices. Though by the end of 2017 Beijing had scant investments in Afghanistan ($400 million), the country’s economic lure is too important to ignore — its mineral riches are valued at $1-3 trillion.

After US forces leave Afghanistan, China will face the problem of potential security blowback in Central Asia and Xinjiang. But it will also see long-term benefits in a region freed from the US military presence and the potential to set up an alternative mechanism for solving the Afghanistan problem.

China has close, near-strategic ties with Russia, Pakistan, and Iran, and might create a quartet to deal with the issue. It might seek more fundamental cooperation with the Taliban, but, as argued above, only within the framework of economic and security patterns benefiting the quartet and China in particular. Pakistan would oppose India’s participation, another power with an interest in the region, so China and the quartet would ensure that Delhi is excluded.

Eventually, and much to Western surprise, the system might work. At the very least, it will denigrate the role the West has played in Afghanistan and add another bloc to the alternative world vision championed by illiberal states.

Emil Avdaliani teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University. He has worked for various international consulting companies and currently publishes articles on military and political developments across the former Soviet space.

A version of this article was originally published by the BESA Center.

 

nang2

SENIOR MEMBER
Dec 14, 2015
3,869
2
4,090
Country
China
Location
United States
It is going to happen. It is only logical.
China has never had any interests in Afghanistan, not even in the history when China was all powerful. For an ambitious Chinese emperor, Uzbekistan or Tajikistan would be more attractive than Afghanistan.
 

Globenim

SENIOR MEMBER
Aug 19, 2011
3,079
-4
5,258
Country
China
Location
Thailand
by Emil Avdaliani
Emil Avdaliani
Center for European Policy Analysis
Washington, DC

Funded by
  • The Hirsch Family Foundation
  • National Endowment for Democracy
  • The Smith Richardson Foundation
  • The Poses Family Foundation
  • The Baltic American Freedom Foundation
  • NATO Public Diplomacy Division
  • U.S. Department of State
  • American Friends of the Czech Republic
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Raytheon Company
  • Bell Helicopter
  • Alianţa
  • Hungarian American Coalition
  • The Hungary Initiatives Foundation
  • Central and East European Coalition
  • Friends of Slovakia
A version of this article was originally published by the BESA Center.
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
The Center conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.

Im sure this wall of text is going to be as objective and truthfull and educational as an "opinion" can be...

😂

China will expand into
Oh well thats a good start

🙄
 
Last edited:

CrazyZ

SENIOR MEMBER
Mar 3, 2019
3,675
2
4,786
Country
Pakistan
Location
United States
China is different then the USA. It doesn't want to be a policeman.

If Afghanistan is a mess at war with itself..then China will keep away. If Afghanistan becomes more stable then Chinese may show some more interest in interacting with it.
 

925boy

SENIOR MEMBER
Sep 10, 2016
4,401
-29
4,805
Country
United States
Location
United States
China has never had any interests in Afghanistan, not even in the history when China was all powerful.
But CHina has interests in Afghanistan, TODAY, such as AFghanistan's $trillions of dollars worth of minerals, and China is TODAY a country of 1bn+ people, with a rapid appetite for many commodities, so China is interested in Afghanistan for multiple reasons, but maybe not very interested.
 

Dalit

ELITE MEMBER
Mar 16, 2012
13,618
-17
25,098
Country
Pakistan
Location
Netherlands
China has never had any interests in Afghanistan, not even in the history when China was all powerful. For an ambitious Chinese emperor, Uzbekistan or Tajikistan would be more attractive than Afghanistan.
China has interest in every country as it should. Afghanistan is no different. Afghanistan sits on vast mineral wealth. That in itself is enough impetus to tap into the resources.
 

ZeEa5KPul

SENIOR MEMBER
Jul 13, 2017
2,409
-16
6,286
Country
Canada
Location
Canada
Emil Avdaliani
Center for European Policy Analysis
Washington, DC


Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
The Center conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.

Im sure this wall of text is going to be as objective and truthfull and educational as an "opinion" can be...

😂


Oh well thats a good start

🙄
That's really all one needs to know about this type of article - which pimp owns the presstitute writing it.
 

Dalit

ELITE MEMBER
Mar 16, 2012
13,618
-17
25,098
Country
Pakistan
Location
Netherlands
Emil Avdaliani
Center for European Policy Analysis
Washington, DC


Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
The Center conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.

Im sure this wall of text is going to be as objective and truthfull and educational as an "opinion" can be...

😂


Oh well thats a good start

🙄
His affiliations aside. I think the points he has made are valid. China wouldn't want to miss out.
 

dbc

PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST
Feb 1, 2009
4,893
12
5,259
Country
United States
Location
United States
China has never had any interests in Afghanistan
China is interested and still has an exclusive 30 year lease on mines in Afghanistan obtained in 2007. Guess how much money China made from these mines so far? Zero...

Guess how much the Taliban made from mining in 2020 ...1.6 billion dollars. :lol:

The Taliban don't want outsiders in their country - the money they make from drugs and illicit mining is enough for them. There is an entire ecosystem of illicit trade in drugs and minerals across the Afghan Pakistan border and no prizes for guessing who runs it on the Pakistani side of the fence ...:lol:

Afghanistan is a hard nut to crack even for China.
 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

ELITE MEMBER
Nov 14, 2015
12,938
16
33,306
Country
United States
Location
United States
Absolutely not a surprise....

The Pak-China-Russia association is the fulcrum of the recent developments in Afganistan! The USA is moving out for a reason.....
 

kankan326

SENIOR MEMBER
Jun 7, 2011
3,207
-16
8,320
Country
China
Location
China
China is interested and still has an exclusive 30 year lease on mines in Afghanistan obtained in 2007. Guess how much money China made from these mines so far? Zero...

Guess how much the Taliban made from mining in 2020 ...1.6 billion dollars. :lol:

The Taliban don't want outsiders in their country - the money they make from drugs and illicit mining is enough for them. There is an entire ecosystem of illicit trade in drugs and minerals across the Afghan Pakistan border and no prizes for guessing who runs it on the Pakistani side of the fence ...:lol:

Afghanistan is a hard nut to crack even for China.
China is not so minerals thirsty. Afghan is too far from sea. The transport cost makes Afghan minerals less attractive.
 

Char

SENIOR MEMBER
Mar 31, 2018
2,012
0
2,492
Country
China
Location
China
BRI or CPEC will expand into Afghanistan, I don't think Chinese military forces will be in Afghanistan.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)


Top Bottom