Once China’s enormous economic and security interests in Afghanistan are left without America’s military shield, the Chinese are bound to play an even larger role there, one that Afghans hope will reach “strategic levels.” China would prefer to accomplish this the Chinese way – that is, essentially through a display of soft power – or, as the Chinese government put it on the occasion of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s official visit to Beijing in early June, through “non-traditional security areas.”
Judging by China’s behavior in other parts of the world, any military cooperation is likely to be extremely modest and cautious. China has already made it clear it will not contribute to the $4.1 billion multilateral fund to sustain Afghan national security forces.
A big hat tip to Brandon over at SOFREP for finding this article. In the past I have talked about China’s involvement in Africa and the strategic game they are playing, as well as their willingness to set up shop in war zones like Iraq or Afghanistan. They are purely focused on business, and really could care less about the people or the politics or who is in charge. All they care about is who do they have to do business with and pay in order to accomplish their goals for obtaining resources.
So why does this matter? Because I personally would like to see the west do more to get a return on their investment after ten years of war. The blood and treasure expended should earn western businesses a place at the front of the line when it comes to making entries into Afghanistan.
China also could care less who they do business with. Notice in the quote up top that China did not care to contribute to Afghanistan’s security forces? I wouldn’t doubt it if the Taliban and China are already making deals for a post war reality in Afghanistan. I mean look at how China still supports the Assad government in Syria, even though they are murdering their own people.
On the other hand, the realist in me says that China is just playing a better strategic game than the west when it comes to these places. Or their game is just different, hence the ‘chess versus weiqi’ example mentioned in the beginning of the article below. We may not like it, but I don’t see anyone making a move to counter their game? Is our goal to get China sucked into the graveyard of empires as well? Who knows? lol
At the end of the day, China will still have to answer for their actions there. Whomever they do business with, they will be scrutinized and remembered by the people for said actions. China will also have to have deep pocketbooks in order to keep paying off tribes/Taliban in a back and forth game of ‘pay me more or I will shut down your operations’. China will also have to deal with outside sources of shock to their schemes there–meaning they will have to be working hard to keep multiple countries in the region happy, or pay the consequence. Interesting stuff. –Matt
China’s Afghan Game Plan
By Shlomo Ben-Ami
04 July 2012
In his latest book, On China, Henry Kissinger uses the traditional intellectual games favored by China and the West – weiqi and chess – as a way to reveal their differing attitudes toward international power politics. Chess is about total victory, a Clausewitzian battle for the “center of gravity” and the eventual elimination of the enemy, whereas weiqi is a quest for relative advantage through a strategy of encirclement that avoids direct conflict.
This cultural contrast is a useful guide to the way that China manages its current competition with the West. China’s Afghan policy is a case in point, but it also is a formidable challenge to the weiqi way. As the United States prepares to withdraw its troops from the country, China must deal with an uncertain post-war scenario.
Afghanistan is of vital strategic interest to China, yet it never crossed its leaders’ minds to defend those interests through war. A vital security zone to China’s west, Afghanistan is also an important corridor through which it can secure its interests in Pakistan (a traditional ally in China’s competition with India), and ensure its access to vital natural resources in the region. Moreover, China’s already restless Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang, which borders on Afghanistan, might be dangerously affected by a Taliban takeover there, or by the country’s dismemberment.