Display of a gold mine in Nor Aaba, Takhar Province, Afghanistan.
Omar Sobhani | Reuters
An of the first stuff die many western experts predicted when the chaotic withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan was the replacement in Which power vacuum through China, long a critic of and strategic opponent of the US
Afghanistan has trillions of dollars worth of untapped mineral resources, and is in terrible need of investments in infrastructure, making it in theory and prime ground for China’s Comprehensive Belt and Road Initiative. What’s? more, China is one of the few countries and the only economic superpower die has built friendly relations so far with the Taliban, who shocked the world in begin August through Afghanistan in to get in a case of to dawn.
In what many see as a symbolic mockery of the West, Chinese state officials have taken Washington and its 20-year war, and cautiously welcomed the Taliban. announcement of to be new government of hardliners and FBIwanted terrorists this week.
Taliban take control over of Hamid Karzai International Airport upon completion of the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 31, 2021.
Wali Sabawoon | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
“With this, the more than three weeks of anarchy in Afghanistan and is a necessary step for The recovery of Afghanistan of domestic order and post-war reconstruction,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, according to a transcript published by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
But aside from the statements, many regional experts are not convinced of China’s enthusiasm for storming into the war-torn Central Asian state on its western boundary.
China has long been wary of Islamic extremism in it is far to the west. To be also determined not to in fall into the same quagmire that the Soviet Union and the US were sucked into with Afghanistan, analysts say.
“China is interested in economic involvement in Afghanistan and expansion of its Belt and Road, including reconstruction and investment in untapped mineral resources of the landlocked country,” Ekta Raghuwanshi, Stratfor’s South Asia analyst for RANE, told CNBC.
“But,” she warned, “it wouldn’t invest substantially at any point… soon given security issues in Afghanistan and proximity to China’s troubled Xinjiang province,” she said, referring to Uyghur militants and the resurgence of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
And while China has made clear his approval of the Taliban, that doesn’t mean they’re ready commit to do business with them.
“We have no evidence that China will see the Taliban as a… more safe partner,” said Maximilian Hess, a fellow in Central Asia at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program, to CNBC.
“It’s very conscious of the security risks and attacks on Chinese infrastructure in Pakistan by Islamic groups has increased in recent years” including one as recently as August, Hess said. China threatens to anger local Afghans with its presence, and Beijing “recognizes the tribal of Afghanistan” reality and that the Taliban has many sub-factions die have them operate with quasi-autonomy in many areas,” he added.
So even if the Taliban – who have embraced China’s diplomatic rapprochement and celebrate the prospect of his investment — give Chinese investors a guarantee of safety, the group does not necessarily control over other militants and tribes in the whole country of almost 40 million people.
What Beijing doesn’t do? voice publicly, analysts say, is his concern over the impact? of the withdrawal of the US, many like Russia.
as a journalist Sreemoy Talukdar wrote in Indonesian news outlet Firstpost this week, China had “maybe beaming over the US’s displeasure at the bungled exit…but has been decent so far content with Americas role as the surety next door in An region that’s a real witch’s brew of terrorism and ethnic insurgency.”
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not reply on a CNBC request for comment.
the Taliban remains sanctioned by the US, the EU and the United Nations. That is an obvious legal and financial risk for anyone hope to do business with the group.
“All deals signed with the Taliban face clear political and sanctions risks,” said Jonathan Wood, deputy global research director at management risks.
China has proven adept when navigating US sanctions in the past, importing Iranian oil under embargo thanks to the use of stuff like “ghost ships.” But some Chinese companies are hit by US sanctions, and in the case of Afghanistan, the security risks make shifting die border even less attractive.
“Western sanctions mean that even if the Taliban is recognized (by China), very few banks” of… financial institutions will act with the Taliban government while die sanctions remain’ said Hes.
Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is staggering. The land is above about 60 ton of copper reserves, more than 2.2 billion ton of iron ore, 1.4 million ton of special earth coveted minerals for their use in electronic products like lithium — that is in high demand for electric vehicle batteries — 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and another 500 million barrels of natural gas liquids, according to US geological surveys.
But so far it has proved almost impossible to achieve it.
In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies took on a 30-year rent for the largest copper project in Afghanistan, called Mes Aynak. To date – 13 years later – no work has started on mining project.
This is due to a combination of security problems, state corruption and infrastructure constraints, although the 11.08 million ton of copper it is estimated to contain would be worth over $100 billion at current London Metal Exchange prices.
“Afghanistan’s limited infrastructure – power, roads, rails – difficult terrain and landlocked geography will continue to hinder natural resources development’ said Stratfor’s Wood.
Despite all the restrictions, these have not necessarily stopped China in the past, if his investments in Sudan and Congo show, noted Samuel Ramani, a tutor of International relations at the university of Oxford.
Given the stagnation of his previous Afghan enterprises, “I think Chinese involvement in Afghanistan can look like a lot like their alleged reconstruction plans in Syria,” Ramani said. “A lot of speculation, but little substance.”
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