mandag 16. august 2021

For China, the return of the Taliban poses more risk than it does opportunity

As China watches the chaotic scenes unfold in the Afghan capital Kabul, it is likely seeing more imminent risk than opportunity. Since US President Joe Biden announced in April a full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, there has been much talk about how China could seize the moment to fill the vacuum left behind by the US and expand its presence and influence there.

Such arguments have only intensified following the high-profile meeting between Taliban leaders and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month, where Wang declared the Taliban would "play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan."

But for China, a neighbor of Afghanistan with substantial investment in the region, the security challenges posed by the abrupt return of the Taliban are far more pressing than any strategic interests down the road.
"China does not tend to perceive Afghanistan through the prism of opportunities; it is almost entirely about managing threats," said Andrew Small, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, in an interview with the European Council on Foreign Relations.