China’s increasing engagement with Afghanistan

“Almost every great power in history, when they were rising, was deeply involved in Afghanistan, and China will not be an exception.”-  Prof Wang Lian.

China  launched  a new official forum in Kabul, the ‘China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Strategic Dialogue’.  This triangular engagement is likely to emerge as a major force shaping India’s north western frontiers.

What was the outcome of the dialogue ?

· Major commitments to promote regional cooperation.

·  Finance a 1500 MW hydro-electric power project in the Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. To be managed jointly by Pakistan and Afghanistan and the project will feed into the power grids of both countries.

· Intent to promote two important trans-border transport corridors—a motorway linking Kabul with Peshawar and a rail link between Quetta and Kandahar. These infrastructure projects would complement China’s Silk Road projects and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

· Afghanistan , China , Pakistan sought to increase mutual strategic trust as well as enhance mutually beneficial cooperation. They also reaffirmed that terrorism, extremism and separatism pose a major threat to the security and stability of the region and agreed to deepen counter-terrorism and security cooperation.

Why China might succeed ?

·  Convergence of China’s interests with that of Pakistan

·  After USA’s withdrawal, Kabul looks upon China as a hope to stabilize Pakistan army’s overt gestures.

·  Russia is engaging with China, and is warming up to Pakistan as well. It might back China’s leadership role in Afghanistan.

· The Chinese emphasize that non-­interference in the internal politics of other countries is a pillar of their foreign policy. China’s main motivations are denying sanctuary to terrorist and separatist groups. It looks to encourage investment, expand trade to develop its interior and western regions. This will help China in catering to domestic demand rather than solely relying on export­-led growth that has primarily benefited its coastal cities.

How does India see it ?

·  Indians and Afghanistan share a common history, common foes of fundamentalism and Pakistan-backed terrorism, as well as a common future in South Asia. India must also recognize that there is widespread international and regional support for China’s strategic entry into Afghanistan. China’s approach may be important in re-energizing the region and providing the opportunities for the prosperity and security that will underpin Afghanistan’s future. 


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