Shenzhen, China– In the next few weeks and months, if not a few years, China will need to walk a tightrope on the wire rope related to Afghanistan’s economic and security affairs, otherwise it will risk the fate of other major powers because they are involved in causing them Financial exhaustion and conflicts at the cost of many lives. .

China’s concerns about the stability of the region and the security vacuum that may make the militants daring there outweigh the desire to use Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and further advance regional infrastructure connectivity through the region in the short term.

this Take over suddenly Two weeks before the U.S. military planned to withdraw its forces completely after nearly 20 years of conflict there, the Taliban attack on the country put China in an uncertain position as it tried to decide how to deal with its new neighbors in Kabul. .

“It is very important for China to see how the Taliban stabilize the situation,” Zhang Li, a professor at the South Asian Institute of Sichuan University, told Al Jazeera. “I think the most important step is political reconciliation. It is too early to talk about major economic participation.”

Taliban leaders meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the end of July Important for laying the foundation Zhang said that for further communication between the two parties, especially for China to express its vital interests in terms of stable results and security guarantees.

In 2007, a Chinese state-owned company spent US$3 billion to acquire the rights to one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper mines at the ancient Buddhist site of Mes Aynak in Logar Province. The company became Afghanistan’s largest investor-but for security reasons, The mine never started mining and infrastructure issues [File: Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

As long as the situation remains stable and the Taliban keeps their promises to engage with other political entities in the country, such as the statement issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday on maintaining “friendly and cooperative relations” with Afghanistan is likely to continue.

“China made it clear that the local situation needs to be stabilized, and they want to see positive development,” Zhang said. “If the Taliban can keep their promises, strengthen security and not allow militants to be enemies of other countries, including China, I think China is likely to consider economic participation to a large extent.”

Future governance

However, for now, China will pay close attention to what form of government will emerge, how the Taliban will exercise power, and whether it will form an inclusive government.

Andrew Small, a senior researcher on the organization’s Asia Project, said that such actions could lead to countries such as Pakistan, Russia, and China diplomatic recognition of the Taliban-led government-which could be an important early step in achieving long-term engagement. . The German Marshall Fund is currently headquartered in Berlin.

Small told Al Jazeera: “They don’t want to be trapped in a kind of untouchable country near them.” “I think they do think this is a window. If there is a sustainable government, it needs to be shared with other political forces. that power.”

Although China may wish to see the United States out of its backyard, it may have underestimated the extent of the challenges it faces in Afghanistan, mainly because it relies on Pakistan for information about the situation there. Daniel Markey, director of the Global Policy Program ) Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies told Al Jazeera.

“There is a sense of triumphism about what happened, and the expectation that China may somehow intervene suddenly and clean up the mess,” Markey said based on his observations from some Chinese experts. “If they really believe this, they will be violently shocked, if not immediately, then over time.”

Markey said that the Taliban may need to cooperate with a series of constituencies in Afghanistan, on the one hand because of external pressure, and on the other hand because the movement lacks the manpower to appease and manage the country.

“If it does not evolve into a complete civil war, they will have to give different regions a lot of autonomy,” he said. “This provides China with the possibility of establishing connections with certain sectors of society, but it also poses a threat and risk to China.”

Rafael Pantucci, a senior researcher at Rajaratnam Institute of International Studies in Singapore, told Al Jazeera that the Chinese authorities are “very clear” about their dealings with the Taliban and claimed that Chinese investment may soon start to flow. Into the county are exaggerated.

“Why do we suddenly think that Beijing will say,’Oh, everything is fine now, let us rush in, you know, mining lithium in Helmand [province]’You know, this is an incredible rural area with no infrastructure to speak of? “Pantucci asked.

The excavation of the ancient Buddhist site of Mes Aynak was a factor that caused the state-owned China Metallurgical Corporation to postpone its plan to mine one of the world’s largest copper mines [File: Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

Pantucci mentioned two relatively well-known major investment projects-a contract signed with a Chinese state-owned company to develop a copper mine in Mes Aynak in 2007, and a tender for the Amu Darya oil field project with China National Petroleum Corporation in 2011- This is basically far from being developed.

“Even if it was stable before, I don’t know if the Chinese government is pushing its companies into Afghanistan,” he said.

Wait-and-see approach

Small told Al Jazeera that if the international community recognizes the Taliban-led government in Kabul and maintains stability, China is likely to create a feeling that “there is more to offer,” he said. Said that it is possible to participate in various investment discussions and short-term assistance.

“However, the problem will really arise in any serious long-term project, whether it is a copper mine or any major infrastructure connections and things, I think [China’s authorities] I will sit for a while and see what comes up,” Small said.

Although Chinese diplomats are sending signals of friendship and cooperation, they must take more in-depth field operations wherever they are close to real contact.

“I don’t think they are trying to have greater confidence in the Taliban’s ability to be a good partner, such as mining the mineral wealth of Afghanistan,” said Mackey. “The previous administration was not great, but it has received 20 years of support from the U.S. security services.”

Another major question facing China is whether the rise of the Taliban will encourage other militants in the region, especially the Taliban in Pakistan, or any attempt to use China’s suppression of Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang and anti-terrorism operations as a rally slogan against them. nation.

“Terrorism is a huge challenge for China, so this is also something China is paying special attention to,” Zhang said of the Beijing government’s seeking assurances from the Taliban.

Sun Yun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank, said that the rapid takeover surprised everyone, including China, and that much depends on what the Taliban will do next.

“Whether it resumes the previous harsh policies or starts to ease, and whether it maintains contact and support with radical Islamic groups, especially Uyghurs,” will determine the relationship with China and any subsequent economic contacts, she said.


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