China’s Maneuvering In Afghanistan: Political And Economic Interest – OpEd
By Wajih Ullah*
Geographical position of any country makes its importance in world arena both in economic and strategic terms. Afghanistan located at prime location of Central Asia and shares borders with Pakistan, China, Iran, Central Asian States and adjacent to Middle Eastern Countries that are rich in oil and natural gas. Afghanistan pays its price for strategic location, different great games, played in this region not only for its natural resources but connecting different regions of the world. Afghanistan where no colonial power had a capacity to make a colony because of its history, the invasion of Soviet December 1979 changes the internal external dynamics of Afghan politics. In 1937, the French diplomat Rene Dollot described Afghanistan as “Switzerland of Asia”
Afghanistan has unique and significance geography makes its important in world arena that connects South Asia to Central Asia. Chinese dream to connect different regions of the world to boost the economic activity by developing the rail network, road infrastructure projects and ports to increase maritime trade. After the withdrawal of NATO and ISAF forces from Afghanistan in 2014, China become a major player in this conflict by playing its effective role to stable the internal situation of country. The Taliban “Spring Offensive” of 2016 after the end of winter a series of attack on Kabul and forces makes the situation critical.
China play an effective card in international politics by pursuing the agenda of economic cooperation since date backs in era of Silk Road. The relations were established in 1955 and then enhanced in 1964 as “Treaty of Economic and Technical Cooperation”. Afghanistan is lucky in terms of natural resources like iron, copper, marble, coal, precious metals, gemstones and hydrocarbon some which of them was discovered while most of them untapped due to ongoing conflict.
According to Afghan and American Geological Surveys, conducted between 2007and 2009, deposits of copper, mercury, rare-earth elements, sulfur, chromite’s, asbestos, potash, graphite, and sand and gravel were found in over 20 mineralized areas. The survey reveals that, “The most significant known metal deposits are of copper and iron. The total copper resources in Afghanistan range up to 60 million metric tons of copper of which the sediment-hosted copper deposits at Anya are estimated to contain nearly 30 million metric tons copper. Resources in undiscovered porphyry copper and skarn deposits are estimated to be about 28.5 million tons of copper, with additional molybdenum, gold, and silver resources. During the first decade of the 21st Century, trade between China and Afghanistan has steadily increased and China has emerged as one of the main exporters to Afghanistan. China is making substantive contributions in terms of developing the natural resources and infrastructure of Afghanistan”.
China first and foremost desire is to stable the Afghanistan internal situation. In this regard china play its effective role as regional player to overcome any foreign involvement in this region. That not only creates a tension but disturbing the regional political environment. According to Davood Moradiyan of Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, Kabul, “The Chinese are ambiguous. They don’t want the Taliban to return to power and are concerned about a vacuum after 2014 that the Taliban could fill, but they also don’t like having U.S. troops in their neighborhood” another Chinese expert, Andrew Small, “If you look across Central Asia that is what has already happened. China is the only actor which can foot the level of investment needed in Afghanistan to make it succeed and stick it out”.
In addition to that, China purposing a constructive dialogue process, to engage Taliban on negotiation table, the only non- military solution of Afghan conflict. The win-win possibility is need of hour. Composite dialogue with all regional partners, Pakistan sharing porous border with Afghanistan, India dominating and close ally of Afghan government, Iran hold its strong footprints in this region and America the major stake holder of the conflict.
*Wajih Ullah student of Politics and International Relations in International Islamic University, Islamabad