As US Steps Out, China Aggressively Working To Enter Central Asia via Afghanistan

China wants to engage in the Afghan peace process which clearly highlights its ambition of becoming a superpower in Central Asia. After spreading its influence with the  Belt and Road initiative in many parts of Asia, the Persian Gulf and Europe; China is now working aggressively towards winning the energy-rich Central Asia.

China has always tried to maintain good economic relations with diversified nations. China’s diplomatic relations with these many countries across the globe helped it to challenge US’ monopoly. This is clearly visible in the Chinese intervention policy in Afghanistan to maintain regional integration.

Afghanistan is facing insecurity and instability from its neighbouring countries. The US-led war or terror in Afghanistan has dominated multiple attempts of its neighbours to engage in a major trade, investment or development activities.

Recently, media reports speculating US President Trump’s decision of completely withdrawing US forces have created clouds of uncertainty over multiple issues, particularly US Forces exit strategy.

Afghanistan’s relations with its immediate neighbours like Iran, Pakistan, and China heavily relies on security-related issues such as cross-border terrorism, smuggling of illicit goods and services, threats to the safety of foreign citizens residing in or travelling to Afghanistan.

There is a growing need to address all these issues that serve as essentials for developing China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The priority of the BRI is to socioeconomically develop the independent province of Xinjiang in Western China. The internal security of Afghanistan is getting affected by all these challenges.

Therefore, China’s willingness to play a greater role in the Afghan peace process can be understood as its ambition to cover entire central Asia through its belt and road initiative.

China is trying to address the prevailing insecurity within Afghanistan at a more regional level and simultaneously improving relations with Pakistan. The recent meetings between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan indicate chinese aim to promote dialogue between the two countries.

As per the statements made by the Chinese ambassdor to Pakistan, China is keen to advance talks between the Afghan governement and the Taliban. The Chinese government has appointed a special envoy to cordinate talks with the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

Further, China provided millions of dollars as military aid to Afghanistan. China is expecting closer military ties to equip themseleves against the counter-terrorism operations. It is also planning to set up a military base in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, near Wakhan Corridor bordering the Xinjiang region. Although chinese officials have denied any such advancement in the province.

The US-China relations will not improve with the chinese intervention in the Afghan provinces for promoting peace and stability. The two countries are already suffering because of a trade war, militarisation of the South China Sea as well as China’s incresing influence across the surrounding region.

All these issues highlight that the US has failed to stop the rise of China’s growth in Afghanistan. This indicates that China may surpass the US as the dominant power within Central Asia.

Although, politico-economic dynamics of the Afghan province remains unstable, but China’s recent efforts can bring changes in the scenerio. The change will be longlasting, if China and its surrounding countries remain committed to overall peace and prosperity in the region.

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