On July 6, the U.S. Central Command announced that 90 percent of U.S. troops in Afghanistan had been withdrawn; on July 8, Biden said the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan would end on Aug. 31. In response, the Chinese Communist Party ridiculed the U.S. for its failure, while at the same time scolding the U.S. for withdrawing its troops in an irresponsible manner, leaving a huge “security black hole. Although the withdrawal of U.S. troops gives the CCP a strategic opportunity to “constructively engage”, the absurdity of the CCP’s “great power diplomacy” and the complexity of the Afghan issue are likely to make the CCP fall into the mud.
First, the unpredictable development of the situation in Afghanistan is a big problem for the CPC.
The current situation in Afghanistan has three possibilities: first, the Taliban will seize the country and establish a separate government; second, the Taliban will sign a peace agreement with the current Afghan government and form a coalition government; third, there will be a civil war. Which direction is it going? It is difficult to judge now. Moreover, the ability of any country, not only the Chinese Communist Party, to intervene in the direction of the situation in Afghanistan is quite limited. This high degree of uncertainty poses a major challenge to the CCP’s diplomacy.
Media reports indicate that the Taliban have arrived in the mountainous border area bordering China’s Xinjiang region. Although, on July 7, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the media that the Taliban viewed the Chinese government as a “welcome friend” and welcomed Chinese investment in reconstruction, they would also guarantee the safety of investors and workers and would not allow anyone such as the “East Turkistani” to take advantage of the situation in Afghanistan. While Hu Xijin and others helped to create momentum by emphasizing that “the Taliban also treat us as friends,” “now you know how stable and powerful China’s (CCP) diplomacy is, right?” Although the border between China and Afghanistan is only about 90 kilometers, and the Wakhan Corridor is treacherous and inaccessible, it is not difficult for the CCP to “block the door”; however, the impact of the chaos in Afghanistan on the CCP is still huge.
First, the turmoil in Afghanistan poses two direct threats to China’s Xinjiang region, namely, the “three forces” (the so-called “violent terrorist forces,” “ethnic separatist forces,” and “religious extremist forces”), as the CCP is accustomed to calling them. ” and “religious extremist forces”), and the proliferation of drugs. This is something that the CCP cannot control and eliminate.
Second, strategically speaking, the CCP is more worried about the possibility of the unrest in Afghanistan spilling over to the Central Asian countries to the north and to Pakistan and other countries to the south, forming a longer “belt of unrest” around China, which is a real and growing possibility. This not only affects the domestic security situation, but also in the fight against the implementation of the “Belt and Road”.
Secondly, the Chinese Communist Party has limited influence on the multi-national involvement in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is about 640,000 square kilometers of land and 36 million people. It is located at the crossroads of West Asia, South Asia and Central Asia, bordering Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia in the north, China in the northeast through the narrow Wakhan Corridor, Pakistan in the southeast, and Iran in the west.
Its special strategic location has attracted the attention of many great powers; however, Afghanistan is quite amazing, as it is the “graveyard of empires”, where several great empires in the history of the world have suffered strategic defeats: from the ancient Macedonian Kingdom, which occupied almost all of South Asia, to the modern British Empire, to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, to the United States in the 21st century, and so on. The United States, and so on.
However, Afghanistan today is a chaotic mess with an uncertain future; its economy is based on a “war economy” that is a mixture of drug economy, anti-terrorist economy, foreign aid economy and warlord economy; and there is a clear lack of control of the whole society in terms of political identity and national governance, which inevitably calls for a major power contest.
Generally speaking, the eight major powers – the United States, Russia, Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Chinese Communist Party – are all playing the game of Afghanistan. Although none of them wants to see a fundamentalist Islamic regime, and all of them have a common interest in fighting terrorist forces and eradicating the drug economy, their strategic considerations are different and even collide with each other, making the tug-of-war more intense than ever. No international hotspot issue is as complex as this.
The Chinese Communist Party is alone in the chess game of Afghanistan. The CCP seems to have good bilateral relations with Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, but when it comes to Afghanistan, it is not necessarily the same; not to mention the strategic conflicts with the United States and India. On the issue of Afghanistan, it is difficult for the CCP to find real allies.
Third, the Chinese Communist Party’s policy toward Afghanistan, it is difficult to “constructive intervention.
Recently, the Chinese Communist Party has made many moves towards Afghanistan. For example, from July 12 to 16, Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and attended the meeting of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group; on June 3, the fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held. On June 3, the fourth China-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue (by video) was held; on May 12, the second meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China+5 Central Asian countries was held and a joint statement on Afghanistan was issued; on March 18, China, Russia, the United States and Pakistan signed a joint statement to seek a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue and end the more than 40-year war. On March 18, China, Russia, the United States and Pakistan signed a joint statement to seek a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue and end the more than 40-year war. However, all of them have had limited impact.
Why? There are several reasons. First, the Chinese Communist Party’s long-standing foreign policy slogan of “non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries” has been quietly changing in recent years, for example, to “minimal involvement” in Afghanistan. After Xi Jinping came to power, he proposed “great power diplomacy”, which was implemented in the direction of “conditional active involvement” or “constructive involvement” in the policy toward Afghanistan, but the problem of Afghanistan is difficult and the change is very slow.
In December 2018, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan discussed the possibility of building cross-border railroads from Peshawar to Kabul and from Quetta to Kandahar. At present, China and Afghanistan have formed the “Belt and Road” energy partnership. The total Chinese investment in Afghanistan is estimated to be around 6 billion euros. However, the effect of the economic card is limited due to the volatile situation in Afghanistan. The CCP’s policy instruments towards Afghanistan are not abundant.
Third, the CCP was not able to eat the Taliban and bet on both sides. in February 1993, the CCP withdrew all its diplomats and broke off its dealings with the Taliban regime. Relations between the CCP and the current Afghan regime have developed rapidly: in 2006, China and Afghanistan signed a treaty of good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation to replace the 1960 friendship and non-aggression pact; in 2012, China and Afghanistan declared a strategic partnership; and in May 2016, China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding to build a “Belt and Road” together.
On June 20, 2019, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed for the first time the visit of Taliban representatives to China. It is difficult for outsiders to know the specifics of the CCP’s cooperation with the Taliban. However, the Chinese government is not sure whether the Taliban have transformed themselves from the former “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and does not want the Taliban to be in power alone. The Communist Party’s so-called “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” policy is a hollow and helpless proposition. The two sides are betting against each other, which naturally limits the strength of the CCP’s policy toward Afghanistan.
The Chinese Communist Party is not good at multilateral diplomacy, but has always made moves in bilateral diplomacy. Now, the future of Afghanistan is unclear, the conflicts are complicated, and the forces are intertwined; the CCP’s absurd judgment of the international situation and rigid diplomatic system will not yield good results, no matter it is “war wolf diplomacy” or “great power diplomacy”. I am afraid that if the CCP really tries to make a hard move, it will end up with a bloodied head.