China and Russia are preparing to enter the gap in Afghanistan


Analysts in some countries said that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has redrawn the geopolitical map of Asia and provided the United States’ two most staunch strategic opponents, China and Russia, with an opportunity to project power after Washington’s disorderly withdrawal.

“China benefits from irresponsible behavior [the US] Zhu Yongbiao, an adviser to the Chinese government on Central Asia issues and a professor at Lanzhou University, said that this has seriously damaged the international image of the United States and the relationship between Washington and its allies.

Arkady Dubnov, a Moscow political analyst and expert on Central Asia, has a similar view. “We can adjust our interests [with China] Oppose the United States,” he said. “What is good for us is bad for the Americans, and what is bad for us is also good for the Americans. Today’s situation is not good for the Americans, so it is good for us. “

After Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the Taliban declared victory on Sunday, ending the nearly 20-year existence of the US-led alliance.Despite years of training and investment by NATO, the Afghan army has hardly resisted Insurgents enter Kabul.

However, the cost of “America’s longest war” gives us a certain understanding of future tasks. More than 3,000 Americans and other NATO members were killed, as did 47,000 Afghan civilians and at least 66,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen. As Washington has endured the impact of war funds, the U.S. Treasury debt has increased by trillions of dollars.

According to diplomats and experts, early signs indicate that China — possibly supported by Russia, Pakistan, and other governments — will take a very different approach. Beijing is unlikely to deploy military forces, but seeks to induce the Taliban to embark on a path of peaceful reconstruction through diplomacy and economics.

Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said: “We hope that the Afghan Taliban will unite all parties and are establishing a political framework that suits Afghanistan’s national conditions and lay the foundation for lasting peace in Afghanistan.”

Senior Asian diplomats, who did not want to be named, said Beijing is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s critical infrastructure. Chinese experts said that China’s investment in resource projects may be carried out after the restoration of order in the Afghan economy.

Beijing is willing to officially recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. In addition, it can work at the United Nations to seek an end to the designation of the Taliban as a “terrorist” organization, although achieving this goal requires U.S. cooperation and is therefore seen as a long-term goal, the diplomat said.

But Beijing is very clear that the implementation of such incentives depends on the Taliban’s adherence to China’s main goals.

A Chinese paramilitary police officer at the Afghan Embassy in Beijing

A Chinese paramilitary police officer outside the Afghan embassy in Beijing. China is willing to officially recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan © Noel Celis/AFP/Getty

In July, Abdul Ghani Baradar (left), Chairman of the Afghanistan Taliban Political Committee, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin, China

The Chairman of the Taliban Political Committee in Afghanistan, Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin, China, in July. © Li Ran/Xinhua News Agency/Associated Press

Fan Hongda, a Middle East scholar at Shanghai International Studies University, said that after recent high-level meetings, the Taliban “should fully understand China’s position now.” The most important priority is to ensure that Afghanistan will not become a “hotbed” of terrorist forces threatening China.

The main problem is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and other organizations, which are composed of Uyghur fighters who oppose China’s repression in the northwestern border of Xinjiang. An estimated 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China are detained in detention camps.

The UN Security Council estimated last year that there are as many as 3,500 militants in the East Turkistan organization, some of which are based in Afghanistan, which borders China. Both the United Nations and the United States designated ETIM as a terrorist in 2002, but Washington cancelled its classification last year.

When meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in China in July, Abdul Ghani Baradhar, chairman of the Afghan Taliban Political Committee, was quoted as meeting China’s requirements.

“The Taliban in Afghanistan have the utmost sincerity to work for peace,” China said in a statement after the meeting. “The Afghan Taliban will never allow any forces to use Afghan territory to engage in activities that are detrimental to China. The Afghan Taliban believe that Afghanistan should develop friendly relations with neighboring countries and the international community.”

China is calling on other regional participants, such as Russia and Pakistan, which maintain close relations with Beijing, to cooperate with it. But the departure of the United States has changed the strategic calculations so much that disturbing new adjustments are required.

With the US military stationed in Afghanistan, Russia does not have to worry about the border security of its Asian allies. But now Moscow—which launched a doomed invasion of Afghanistan in 1979—is preparing to take a more radical stance. Andrei Serenko, the head of the Contemporary Afghanistan Research Center, said that in diplomacy, it must also start to please the Taliban and the parties that control it, namely China and Pakistan.

“It is likely to have to cooperate with China. China now has all the trump cards. China influences Pakistan, China retains its position in Afghanistan, and they let the Taliban take charge,” he added.

“So Russia’s strategy for Afghanistan will now depend on China, and it will adapt to China more and more. My brother Beijing will play the first violin here.”

Additional report by Edward White in Seoul, Christian Shepherd, Liu Xinning and Emma Zhou in Beijing


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