Afghan Withdrawal Opens the Way for China, by Con Coughlin

The Soviet Union made a mess of Afghanistan. So did the US. Now it’s China’s turn. From Con Coughlin at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • China, which shares a tiny 47-mile-long border with Afghanistan, has long coveted developing closer ties with Kabul, not least because of the large, untapped reserves of mineral wealth that Afghanistan possesses.
  • Rich in copper, lithium, marble, gold and uranium, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has been estimated to exceed in excess of $1 trillion….
  • Beijing already enjoys good relations with neighbouring Pakistan, where the country’s charismatic prime minister, Imran Khan, was once dubbed “Taliban Khan” for supporting the Islamist movement.
  • As part of Beijing’s efforts to deepen and broaden its ties in Central Asia, Beijing is also concentrating its efforts on expanding its influence in Afghanistan, a policy it expects will bear fruit if the Taliban achieve their goal of seizing control of the entire country.
  • Mr Biden, judging by his spirited defence of his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, clearly believes that it is in America’s interests to end its two-decade-long involvement in the country. But if the US withdrawal simply opens the way for China to become the new dominant power in Afghanistan, then Mr Biden will be responsible for causing, so far as the West is concerned, a strategic disaster of epic proportions.
China, which shares a tiny 47-mile-long border with Afghanistan, has long coveted developing closer ties with Kabul, not least because of the large, untapped reserves of mineral wealth that Afghanistan possesses. Pictured: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left), Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (center) and Afghanistan’s then Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani at the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Islamabad, on September 7, 2019. (Photo credit by AFP via Getty Images)

The indecent haste with which the Biden administration has undertaken its military withdrawal from Afghanistan not only raises the prospect of handing control of the country over to the hardline Islamist Taliban movement. It also presents China with a golden opportunity to extend its influence over this strategically important Central Asian country.

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