It is no news that Afghanistan finds itself in political havoc with the Taliban’s ascension to the throne. People in Afghanistan are terrified of the conservative Islamist Sharia law that will be imposed to curtain their freedom tremendously. Among all the terrified locals, women and children have the most to lose. With the freedom a thing of the past, many are baffled at the swiftness with which the Taliban took control of the country in just mere 10 days.
Given the detestable and quite odious state of Afghanistan, various officials and people have blamed the USA for its failed foreign policy on many fronts. Additionally, remarks like “our goal was not of nation-building” don’t spark much confidence and affirmativeness for the USA’s strategic plans of pulling out of the country. Thus, it won’t be further away from the truth to state that the USA which presumes itself to be the champion of democracy and fundamental rights, is quite a hypocrite, always tending to its interests at the cost of the same.
China’s blatant endorsement in Taliban-
It is to be noted that this is not the first time that the Taliban has captured power in Afghanistan, its ghastly rule was established between 1996-2001. In 1996, when the Taliban had established its power in Afghanistan, China had blatantly refused to recognize their rule. It can be stated that China was so averse to the Taliban’s role that it had left its embassy shut for years. But, in an interesting, or rather detestable, turn of events, Beijing, this time around, has been among the first to embrace the Islamist militants in Afghanistan.
Such remarkable affection was displayed two weeks ago when China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, had effectively welcomed a Taliban delegation to its northern port of Tianjin. This was at the time when the militia group was making gains against the administration of President Ashraf Ghani. Thus, China’s foreign minister’s blatant endorsement of the Taliban’s “important role” in governing provided the militia group a crucial boost of legitimacy.
China’s reasons for such endorsements have not much to do with Afghanistan’s political scenario but with itself. Its motives have much to do with its rise as a global power. In 1996, China didn’t have such a robust economy as it has today. To put it in numbers, China today has an economy worth $14.7 trillion, which is more than 17 times its size in 1996 China economy. This effectively means that a gigantic economy like China, which quite intensively carries out trade with various countries, cannot let Afghanistan’s share in this trade go. Additionally, China already has its invested initiatives of a massive trade-and-infrastructure that effectively stretches across the Eurasian landmass.
Though given China’s fears of Islamic extremism in its territory, China has given a legitimate go-ahead to the Islamist cult. But given its blatant fears about the same, built a vast police state adjacent to Afghanistan. Moreover, the USA-China trade war coupled with political hostilities has prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to seize this opportunity to push back against Washington’s dominance and built its own.
Given, the detestable failures that the Soviet Union and the U.S. have faced in the past in Afghanistan, China will be hard-pressed to avoid the same mistakes.
According to experts, effectively twenty years ago, China was not a superpower to think about gaining potential enemies seriously, but given its robust rise to power, certain new factors affect China’s judgment and design making. New factors include the Uyghur issue coupled with China’s economic interests.
China’s new strategy ought to show that it is more of a pragmatic power and less an interventionist one.
Thus, it can be rightfully stated that the Taliban’s endorsement by China is all part of a long evolution by China. From not recognizing the government in 1996 to endorsing it in 2021, China’s political standing in the world has altered greatly.
With the rise of China, the US sees its potential fall in political hegemony around the world. Many state media personnel have been seen gloating over the American withdrawal. Certain commentaries declaring Afghanistan’s debacle as the “death knell for declining U.S. hegemony” have been witnessed.
Fall of the US: Opportunity for China
Not only has the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan helped China to gain traction in the region but has also created a relatively stable environment for its companies to function on Afghan soil. Thus, the US’s withdrawal has left China’s economic interests secure. These economic interests include a copper mine and several oil blocks.
Other vested interests of China that have led it to endorse the Taliban include Afghanistan’s strategic stability to protect China’s more than $50 billion worth of Belt-and-Road projects being undertaken in neighboring Pakistan.
Thus, it is quite necessary for China to coordinate its activities to effectively deal with the security situation and to allocate its resources efficiently and reasonably.
Thus, Afghanistan’s political situation is quite pressing and essential for Beijing as it would have to ensure that Afghanistan’s source of extremism doesn’t bleed over the border and hijack its economic gains in the region.
But, given all the aforementioned interests of China, it is to be noted here that China’s attitude and amicable foreign policy towards the Taliban-led regime will effectively depend on the Taliban’s willingness to honor its promises and to not unleash political Islamist regime with extreme forces outside its borders, especially to provinces that have links to China.
Thus, it can be stated that given the rise of China’s political power, Afghanistan would definitely become the biggest test for the Chinese diplomatic model.
It is no news that China’s diplomatic foreign model is driven by loans, commodities, and infrastructure deals. This effectively points towards the fact that its foreign policy is not led by liberal policies. Thus, if the Taliban achieves political stability at the back of extremist women laws, Beijing might actually consider an array of investments, similar to the ones made in Pakistan.
Thus, what will China’s detestable endorsement of the Militia group bring for Afghan women and children fills dread in the heart of a humanitarian. A political and economic endorsement by the global giant will only strengthen the conservative stance of the Taliban’s government.