IDR Blog

What is the Meaning of China's Extensive Presence in Afghanistan?
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Asadullah Jafari “Pezhman”
is a Translator, Columnist, and a Former Member of the Afghan National Army. He Mostly Writing and Translating on Afghanistan and the Middle East Issues.

The Presence of China During the Time of the Taliban and Before It

It is not yet known whether Afghanistan will win the game with China’s new approach and the presence of the irregular Taliban group in this country.Can China win this game?With the arrival of the Taliban group in Afghanistan, the presence of the Chinese government has expanded. During the past year, the Chinese government has shown special attention to Afghanistan in diplomacy and raised the possibility that Beijing intends to play a useful role in this country’s economic and security prospects. Although before the Taliban, China had a normal relationship in Afghanistan, now these relations with the Taliban group have become more profound and darker.

The Istanbul Process

In October 2014, China hosted the fourth meeting of foreign ministers of the group of international donors to Afghanistan, known as the “Istanbul Process,” which was established in 2011 with the aim of encouraging neighbors and regional partners to cooperate in Afghanistan.Beijing has also held several regional meetings with other countries about Afghanistan, including the first round of trilateral strategic talks between China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in Kabul. In 2014, a meeting was held between China, Russia, and India. Also, bilateral talks have been held between China, Iran, India, and Pakistan, so that the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” which is a group consisting of most of Afghanistan’s neighbors, can be an important multilateral framework for coordinating policies on Afghanistan.

Who Stealing China’s Financial Aids in Afghanistan?

China’s financial and economic aid to Afghanistan has increased significantly. Between 2001 and 2013, China provided 340 million dollars in aid to Kabul’s corrupt and mafia government. But in 2014, this figure reached 80 million dollars with the promise of another 240 million dollars in the next four years.Unfortunately, these are the donations that the civilian people of Afghanistan have never tasted. These financial donations went either into the pockets of mafia groups or terrorist organizations like the Taliban!!Of course, this is not something new in Afghanistan’s ethnic and bigoted government systems. Still, terrorists, ethnic strongmen, and mafia organizations active in Afghanistan have always abused international humanitarian aid.

The Silk Road Ring Project

In addition, every year, China provides free scholarships to Afghan students and trains 3,000 Afghan experts in various fields such as counter-terrorism, narcotics, agriculture, and diplomacy and provides financial support.Now, more important than financial and educational aid is Beijing’s desire to promote economic cooperation with the ethnic militia group, which means the Taliban group in Kabul. However, relations with terrorist groups like the Taliban are severely criticized by the people of Afghanistan and the world. If China acts honestly within the framework of the economic strategy, the “Silk Road Ring Project” between the two countries will have many opportunities for economic and infrastructure cooperation.The Silk Road project between China and Afghanistan has been stopped for many years due to the mono-ethnic and terrorist regimes and governments in Afghanistan supported by Pakistan and Islamabad, and its fate is still unclear.

China’s Interests in Afghanistan

China’s performance in Afghanistan stems from national interests and increasing awareness of its responsibility as a major regional power in improving Afghanistan’s security and economic development. So, Afghanistan’s Security should be prioritized above China’s interests in Afghanistan.The two countries share a common border of just 76 km at the end of the Wakhan Corridor on the Afghanistan side and Chalachigu Valley of the Kashgar Prefecture, of Xinjiang  Uygur Autonomous Region on the Chinese side. However, the honest people and experts of Afghanistan have been affected by terrorism and extremism in the country’s northeastern borders. At the same time, Uyguris more vulnerable to the effects of terrorism than in Afghanistan.

The Beijing and Threats of Xinjiang City

Maintaining security and stabilityin Xinjiang requires Beijing’s dual approach with Afghanistan and the region’s countries. Therefore, China must fight both domestic Chinese separatists and regional terrorists in Afghanistan or outside Afghanistan. There is a danger that these two factions will coordinate with each other and finally destroy China’s military and economic power in the Middle East.For this reason, Beijing is trying to keep foreign terrorists away from Xinjiang. In fact, if Afghanistan does not achieve stability and national and international security, it will be difficult for the Chinese government to ensure the security of Xinjiang, and it will have negative consequences for the Chinese government in the future.

China and Aynak Copper Mine in Afghanistan

China has also made significant investments in the oil resources of the Amu Sea in northern Afghanistan and the “Aynak Copper Mine” in the southeast of Kabul in Logar province.The economic strategy and project of China’s Silk Road include the construction of railways and highways to connect this country to Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Meanwhile, Afghanistan is at the center of these regions, and any insecurity or civil war will lead to its spread to the surrounding regions and jeopardize this strategy.

The Aynak Copper Mine Picture in Logar province of Afghanistan

China’s Approaches in Afghanistan

China’s proposal to solve Afghanistan’s problems has included political peace between the government and the Taliban, not between the people and the Taliban. China has always tried to achieve it. From Beijing’s point of view, it is not important to implement the model of national governance and democracy in Afghanistan. China should follow a model of proportional governance for the people of Afghanistan and not for the Taliban. Therefore, the international community should respect the independent decisions of the Afghan people and pay serious attention not to being the only observer of the dire situation in Afghanistan.

The Chinese government did not believe a vacuum would be created by withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan. Now, it is not trying to fill this vacuum but is seeking to profit from it. But America has adopted different positions for China’s role in Afghanistan.Washington encouraged China to provide more aid and responsibility in Afghanistan. But when China started doing this, some people in the US expressed concern about the increase of China’s colonial influence in Afghanistan.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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