China watches with concern over Afghanistan as US pulls out

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It is not without reason that Afghanistan is known as the “imperial cemetery”. The ancient Greeks, Mongols, Mughals, British, Soviet Union and more recently the United States all launched various invasions which saw their ambitions and the blood of their soldiers sink in the sand.

However, after each empire withdraws, a new Shadow Tournament will begin. With The United States withdraws China appears uncomfortable on Afghanistan’s western border and is in talks with the Taliban, an Islamist movement that was stripped of power in 2001.

The burning question is not only whether the Taliban can fill the power vacuum caused by the withdrawal of the United States, but also China, despite its long-standing policy of “no interference”. May become the next superpower Trying to write a chapter in the history of Afghanistan.

Watch the Taliban and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Beijing has met with the Taliban and details of the talks have been kept under wraps, but senior government officials, diplomats and analysts in Afghanistan, India, China and the United States have said important aspects of a wide range of strategies embodied. ..

Indian government officials have said China’s approach is to try to rebuild Afghanistan’s destroyed infrastructure. In cooperation with the Taliban By funding through Pakistan, one of Beijing’s strongest allies in the region.

“We can guarantee that China will finance the reconstruction of Afghanistan through the Taliban via Pakistan,” officials said. “China is a Pakistani wallet.”

“At Pakistan’s request, China will support the Taliban,” said another diplomat from the region.

Afghan soldiers at Bagram airfield after the United States left its large facility, which was its main headquarters © Hedayatullah Amid / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

He added that Beijing is insisting that the Taliban limit their relations with a group of Uyghur terrorists in return for such assistance.

The group that Beijing calls the Turkestan Islamic Movement is an important part of China’s security calculations in the region. The United Nations Security Council estimated that the ETIM group numbered as many as 3,500 fighters last year, some of whom were based in parts of Afghanistan, which borders China.

The United Nations and the United States designated ETIM as terrorist in 2002, but Washington Abandoned this classification last year.In China, Beijing Maintain about 1m Uyghur Other ethnic minorities in the camp.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has expressed Beijing’s determination to counter the ETIM and will work with his counterparts in Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to crush the group this year. I recommended it.

“We must crack down on the ‘three evil powers.’ [of extremism, terrorism and separatism] Including the Turkestan Islamic movement, ”the king said in May.

Securing the Belt and Road initiative

Mr. Wang added that the importance of this task stems in part from the need to protect “large-scale activities and projects” in order to create a “safe Silk Road”. Silk Road is one of the terms used by Chinese authorities to refer. Belt and Road Initiative, To build the infrastructure, President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy strategy to gain influence abroad.

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

Analysts said a significant part of China’s motivation for stability in Afghanistan could protect existing BRI projects in Pakistan and Central Asian countries while opening up Afghanistan for future investment.

Qian Feng, head of research at the National Strategic Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said China and Afghanistan have shown strong political will to expand cooperation under the BRI. . Achieving stability in Afghanistan “will undoubtedly bring great convenience to the flow of goods between China and Eurasia,” Qian said.

Professor Hwang Honda of the Middle East Institute at Shanghai University of International Studies said China will more actively support efforts to ensure political stability in Afghanistan.

“China has long been very cautious about sending military forces abroad, but if backed by a UN resolution, China could join an international peacekeeping team and enter Afghanistan “, did he declare. ..

Map of Afghanistan and China

“If the unrest continues, Afghanistan is likely to become a hotbed of growth for Islamic extremists and have some impact on the stability of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. “

But Afghanistan Fall into widespread violence Following the withdrawal of American and NATO troops. The prospects for Kabul’s ability to maintain stability were bleak, according to diplomats in the region.

The Afghan government was able to maintain some stability, mainly due to the superiority of American air support. Drones, gunships, helicopters and heavy blankets were unmatched by the Taliban.

But when the United States leaves, that advantage will be lost, despite the American promise to provide the Afghan government with 37 Blackhawk helicopters last week.

“In 34 states, Afghan troops can only afford to fight in 40% of the region without US air support,” said one diplomat.

Associate Professor at George Washington University War with the UyghursChina’s obligation to create a land trade route to Europe and the Middle East could inevitably drag it into Afghanistan’s internal conflict, said.

“Afghanistan is a prime example of how it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid getting drawn into regional political and security issues in areas where China has substantial economic interests,” Roberts said. . It was.

Additional report from Emma Zhou in Beijing

China watches with concern over Afghanistan as US pulls out

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