UPDATED 9:09 AM PT – Tuesday, July 6, 2021
China seems to be moving in to fill the void left by America’s withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. military left its final base in the region on Friday.
An anonymous source reported Kabul authorities are now working with China toward a deal, which would invest in Afghanistan’s infrastructure. The deal, through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is a trillion dollar program that has provided funding for a variety of infrastructure projects.
Sources report the deal would also extend the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of BRI that involves constructing infrastructure that reaches to Afghanistan. This comes as the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said in an interview Saturday that China can play an important role in shaping Afghanistan’s future.
“Afghanistan, Pakistan and China are neighbors; we are connected geographically,” Karzai stated. “China plays a very important role, a significant role, in improving the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in making sure that a synchronized relationship is established between the two countries.”
Fascinating piece on #Afghanistan‘s remote Wakhan Corridor and a new road linking it to China, offering better economic connectivity. Strong presence in and around Wakhan also important for China’s security play with regard to Xinjiang. https://t.co/fmfX1uzURP pic.twitter.com/HHsFcpVyCJ
— Kabir Taneja (@KabirTaneja) July 4, 2021
It was also reported that China seeks to connect 60 countries through land and sea using BRI, which would potentially enhance China’s influence globally. Due to Afghanistan’s location, it could also prove to be a strategic base for China. Afghanistan allegedly hadn’t joined the BRI due to being backed by the U.S. That could now change since U.S. influence is essentially gone.
However, reports say China’s overall power in Afghanistan could greatly depend on the Taliban, a group that has been responsible for an increase of mounting attacks since the U.S. announced its removal of troops. This comes as the Taliban have reportedly been retaking territory across Northern Afghanistan while thousands have tried to combat the insurgents.
While the Taliban have a strong grip on the country, some residents just want to see peace. The Taliban may then be one of several problems for China in its quest to take on the war-torn country. Both anti-state and pro-state sources of violence are also an issue in the country.