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Current Affairs

China’s larger role in Afghanistan

Date: 30 August 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

China has established diplomatic contacts with Taliban soon after the militant organization entered Kabul and captured power.

 

Background

The US and West are leaving Afghanistan after failing to repair the crumbling nation. It creates a void for ambitious country like China to expand its footprint.

 

Details

  • China has become the first country to reach Taliban with diplomatic relations. It has even surpassed Pakistan by the speed at which it has accepted Taliban.

  • China has been playing the waiting game from past 20 years as the war never looked like ending. After US planned to leave the country, China sensed an opportunity to make gains in terms of strategic and economic values.

  • China in these many years has never taken a centre stage in Afghan policy. It gave financial aid to develop hospitals and solar power plants.

 

The perfect opportunity

  • China is counting on the void left by withdrawing nations to cement its position as the most powerful external power in Afghanistan.

  • It is likely to follow the same model used by the US to control Afghanistan. It may provide aid and diplomatic immunity for Taliban and in turn get hold over the vast resources possessed by the country.

 

Economic interests

  • Mineral deposits worth more than $3 trillion are present in Afghanistan. Taliban does not have the sophisticated technology or resources to mine them economically.

  • The biggest mineral is likely to be Lithium, which is a key ingredient in Li-ion batteries. This mineral will be in demand as electric powered vehicles start gaining prominence.

  • There are also other valuable resources such as gold, lead, coal, uranium, iron ore, gemstones, sulphur, talc, gypsum, marble etc.

  • Afghanistan would also provide a vital link in Belt and Road Initiative. It will be shortest distance from China to markets in middle-east and Europe.

 

China’s worries

  • China fears the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which was established for the rights of Uyghur Muslims being ill-treated in China.

  • The movement has large support in Afghanistan from Taliban and Al-Qaeda. China fears that their gamble with Taliban can back-fire.