The U.S. withdraws its troops, China looks anxiously at Afghanistan


It is not unreasonable that Afghanistan is called an “imperial cemetery”. The ancient Greeks, Mongols, Mughals, British, Soviets, and most recently the United States all launched conceited invasions, witnessing their ambitions and the blood of soldiers flowing to the sand.

But after each empire retreat, a new shadow game begins.along with U.S. withdrawal In Afghanistan, China is looking anxiously at its western border and seeking to negotiate with the rising Taliban that the Islamic movement fell from power in 2001.

The pressing question is not only whether the Taliban can fill the power vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal, but also China—despite its long-term “non-interference” policy— May become the next superpower Try to write a chapter in Afghanistan’s history.

Dialogue with the Taliban and focus on Xinjiang

Beijing held talks with the Taliban. Although the details of the discussions have been kept secret, government officials, diplomats and analysts from Afghanistan, India, China and the United States said that key aspects of a broad strategy are taking shape.

An Indian government official stated that China’s approach is to try to rebuild Afghanistan’s broken infrastructure Cooperation with the Taliban By channeling funds to Pakistan, Pakistan is one of Beijing’s staunchest allies in the region.

The official said: “We can guarantee that China will fund the reconstruction of Afghanistan through Pakistan through the Taliban.” “China is Pakistan’s wallet.”

Another diplomat in the region said: “China will support the Taliban at Pakistan’s request.”

An Afghan soldier at Bagram Air Force Base after the United States leaves its sprawling facility as its main command center © Hedayatullah Amid/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The person added that Beijing insisted that the Taliban restrict contact with what it said was an organization composed of Uyghur terrorists in exchange for such support.

These organizations are called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement by Beijing and are an important part of China’s security considerations in the region. According to estimates by the UN Security Council last year, there are as many as 3,500 militants in the East Turkistan organization, some of whom are stationed in parts of Afghanistan that border China.

Both the United Nations and the United States designated ETIM as a terrorist in 2002, but Washington Abandoned its classification last year. China accuses the East Iranian Movement of carrying out multiple terrorist acts in its northwestern border region, Xinjiang, where Beijing has carried out many terrorist activities. Estimated to retain 1 million Uyghurs And other ethnic minorities in detention camps.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made it clear that Beijing is determined to fight back against East Turkistan, and this year urged colleagues in Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to cooperate in crushing the organization.

“Resolutely crack down on the’three forces’ [of extremism, terrorism and separatism] Including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement,” Wang Zaiyue said.

Ensuring the “Belt and Road” Initiative

Wang added that the importance of this task partly stems from the need to protect “large-scale events and projects” to create a “safe Silk Road.”The Silk Road is one of the terms used by Chinese officials to refer to the Silk Road “One Belt One Road” InitiativeThis is President Xi Jinping’s landmark foreign policy strategy for building infrastructure and gaining overseas influence.

In 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (middle), Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani (left) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hawaja Mohamed Asif (right) at a press conference in Beijing

In 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (middle), Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani (left) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hawaja Mohamed Asif (right) at a press conference in Beijing © AFP via Getty Images

Analysts say that an important motive for China to seek stability in Afghanistan is to protect the existing “Belt and Road” projects in Pakistan and Central Asian countries, while at the same time it may open up future investments to Afghanistan.

Qian Feng, research director of the National Institute of Strategic Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said that both China and Afghanistan have shown strong political will to expand cooperation under the “Belt and Road” initiative. Qian said that if the situation in Afghanistan is stable, “it will undoubtedly bring great convenience to the flow of goods between China and Eurasia.”

Fan Hongda, a professor at the Institute of Middle East Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said that China will more actively support Afghanistan’s efforts to stabilize political affairs.

“Although China has long been extremely cautious about sending troops overseas, if supported by UN resolutions, China may join international peacekeeping teams into Afghanistan,” he said.

Afghanistan and China map

“With the continued turmoil, Afghanistan can easily become a breeding ground for Islamic extremism, which will affect the stability of Xinjiang to a certain extent.”

However, if Afghanistan Relapse into widespread violence After the withdrawal of American and NATO troops. According to diplomats in the region, the outlook for Kabul’s ability to maintain stability is bleak.

The reason why the Afghan government can maintain a certain degree of stability is mainly because of the advantages of US air support. UAVs, armed helicopters, helicopters and heavy aerial artillery are unmatched by the Taliban.

However, when the United States leaves, this advantage will disappear, despite reports that the United States last week promised to provide 37 Black Hawk helicopters to the Afghan government.

A diplomat said: “In 34 provinces, the Afghan army can only fight in 40% of the area without U.S. air support.”

Sean Roberts, associate professor at George Washington University, author Uyghur warSaid that China must open up land trade routes to Europe and the Middle East, which may inevitably involve it in the internal conflict in Afghanistan.

Roberts said: “Afghanistan is a perfect example of how it will become increasingly difficult for China to avoid involvement in local politics and security issues in areas where it has major economic interests.”

Supplementary report by Emma Zhou in Beijing



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