Status: 08/17/2021 1:46 am
China sees the failure of military intervention in Afghanistan as evidence of declining US power. At the same time, China pursues economic interests there. Dealing with the Taliban is characterized by pragmatism and fear.
Commentators in the Chinese state media are evil. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan, the expulsion of Western embassy staff, marks the Americans’ cynical moment, which marked the ousting of the U.S. embassy at the end of the Vietnam War 46 years ago. “The fall of Kabul heralds the death knell for the fall of US hegemony,” the state news agency Xinhua headlined.
But despite all the joy – the Chinese leadership is also concerned about Afghanistan. No one in Beijing said it out loud: but China has long benefited from the US presence in Afghanistan – which has created minimal stability. The fact that the Taliban are now in power also makes it difficult for Beijing. The common border with Afghanistan is only 76 kilometers long – an inaccessible pass at extreme altitudes. Nevertheless, Beijing fears that radical Islamists could infiltrate China – within Xinjiang’s border.
Beijing has good relations with the Taliban
Hong Kong, a fan of Shanghai University for International Studies, warned a few days ago: “China must help Afghanistan establish stability and peace as a neighbor and an important country in the world – only for our own national security interests.” Despite China’s repression of Islam in its home country and the imprisonment of Muslim Uyghurs in re-education camps, Beijing maintains good relations with the Taliban: for example, a delegation led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Bhardwar met in July.
Yesterday, China was one of the first countries to offer “friendly relations” new rulers in Kabul. Foreign Office spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China respects the right of the people of Afghanistan to determine their future. “We are ready to develop good-neighborly relations with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in the reconstruction and development of the country.”
High risk strategic opportunities
On the other hand, the Taliban are interested in investments from China and hope that relations with Beijing will give them more international recognition. This opens up new strategic opportunities for China, but these are far more dangerous. Cooperation with the new rulers in Kabul could bring about China’s infrastructure deals, protect existing billion-dollar investments and give new impetus to China’s new Silk Road. After all, Afghanistan is seen as an important link to the Central Asian states.
But Beijing is cautious. Foreign Office spokeswoman Hua said China expects the Taliban to carry out their commitments to ensure a smooth transition to the Taliban in Afghanistan and to curb all forms of terrorism and violence. The Chinese embassy in Kabul has not yet closed Beijing. But security measures on the narrow border with Afghanistan were strengthened several months ago, according to media reports. It has also been acknowledged that China does not want to engage in military adventures in Afghanistan. The state media has been warning for days without incident that Afghanistan is a “grave of empires”.
China and Afghanistan: Between pragmatism, fear and happiness
Ruth Kirschner, ARD Beijing, zzt. Berlin, 17.8.2021 · 05:29
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