China intends to increase its political influence in Afghanistan: Dissident

Washington [US], August 20 : China intends to increase its political influence in Afghanistan and it will gradually satisfy the Taliban wishes while ensuring that its own interests are guaranteed and its concerns addressed, said a Chinese dissident Jianli Yang.
In an opinion piece in The Diplomat, Jianli, founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China, writes Beijing will approach Afghan affairs more cautiously than people think and it currently faces two major challenges in Afghanistan. First, the Chinese Communist Party desperately wants to prevent the resurgence of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang, he mentions, adding that Beijing certainly hopes that dealing with the Afghan Taliban will not compromise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Although China intends to increase its political influence in Afghanistan, it has real interests to calculate and concerns to resolve. China will gradually satisfy the Taliban’s wishes while ensuring that its own interests are guaranteed and its concerns addressed. It will seek the greatest tangible benefits in return for political recognition of the Taliban regime,” he writes.
“The extremist religious views of the Taliban, who are overrunning Afghanistan, constitute a source of concern for Beijing. China is worried that the situation in Afghanistan could threaten the stability of Xinjiang, and is particularly worried that Taliban-controlled areas could become an external stronghold for separatist forces,” he adds.
In July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Taliban representatives in Tianjin.
“This was an important event following the direct talks between the US and the Taliban in 2018, as it greatly enhanced the Taliban’s international standing and signalled that the group is being recognized as a major political force on the global stage,” notes Jianli.
With the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan and US-back Afghan government collapsed, Jianli says that Beijing has a huge interest in achieving peace in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops.
“As mentioned, if stability is achieved, China can extend the Belt and Road Initiative to Afghanistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he writes.
“On the other hand, chaos in Afghanistan can breed religious extremism and terrorism, which is detrimental to China’s strategy to stabilize the Xinjiang region, and CPEC has already been targeted by terrorist groups both inside and outside of Pakistan. After the meeting with Wang, the Taliban expressed their hope that China will play a greater role in building the Afghan economy,” he writes.
The dissident said that Pakistan will be probably the closest collaborator China will have on Afghan affairs.
“China has significant security interests in Pakistan. If China cooperates with Pakistan to support the Afghan Taliban and deal with terrorist groups, it would actually be killing two birds with one stone. China will put pressure on Pakistan to clamp down on extremists in their own country, and if Pakistan cooperates, it would not only benefit China’s development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, but also support the Afghan Taliban in promoting China’s strategic interest against India,” he adds.

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