The majority of the news cycle since Sunday has been focused on pretty much nothing but the fall of Kabul and the ongoing struggle to empty the US embassy there and evacuate everyone out of the country in one piece. But there’s been a less widely reported story running in parallel that should probably raise a few questions for us. While panic fills the streets of Afghanistan’s capital and helicopters ferry one load of passengers after another to the airport, there are two other embassies in the area where life seems to be mostly getting on as usual. Those would be the embassies of Russia and China. They’re acting as if everything is just peachy In fact, the Chinese have already rolled out the welcome mat and are saying that they’re ready for a friendly relationship with the Taliban after they finish consolidating their power and putting together some sort of governmental structure. What gives? (The Hill)
China on Monday said it is ready to pursue “friendly and cooperative” relations with the Taliban after the insurgent group took control of Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul and brought about the fall of the country’s government.
France24 reports China has sought to maintain unofficial ties with the Taliban as the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. China and Afghanistan share 47 miles of border.
“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.
China did go so far as to tell their people at the embassy to keep a close eye on the security situation and stay indoors as much as possible while things get sorted out, but that was about it. The Chinese Foreign Minister released a statement saying that his country “respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop… friendly and cooperative relations…”
Both the CCP and the Taliban probably see something of an opportunity here and the Chinese don’t have much reason to be alarmed. Unlike the United States, which has to send troops by plane to come after the Taliban, China shares nearly fifty miles of border with Afghanistan. If the Taliban does anything to tick them off too much, they could come storming over the border in force with enough people to overwhelm the country.
Further, China is currently being very antagonistic toward America these days, so we’re probably seeing a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” in action. China is also wealthy enough that it could start shipping significant amounts of foreign aid to the Taliban just to buy itself some additional warm feelings. The Taliban may be a pack of murderous terrorists, but they’re not stupid. China really didn’t meddle much in the entire Afghanistan war, probably to avoid ruffling our feathers, but now that we’re on the way out, they’re free to spread their influence inside the country.
It’s a bit of a strange marriage, considering how China treats the Uighurs in their own country. But here they are encouraging the Taliban to create an “open and inclusive Islamic government.” Leave it to the CCP to leave ideology on the side of the road in the name of convenience when it comes to foreign policy.
Of course, China is already trying to play up the situation in Afghanistan to their own advantage. They immediately began sending warnings to Taiwan, telling them that if the situation in the Straits of Taiwan ever comes to open conflict, the Americans will leave them behind “just like they did with Afghanistan.”
China says “U.S. humiliation” in Afghanistan should be a warning sign to Taiwan and other U.S allies in the region that the American military “won’t come to help” if war breaks out in the future…
Chinese state-controlled media and Communist Party loyalists gloated on Sunday over America’s “humiliation” as the Taliban marched into the Afghan capital, Kabul, forcing U.S.-backed president Ashraf Ghani to flee the country while his government crumbled. China is now offering to fund post-war construction efforts in Afghanistan as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, a sweeping Communist Party infrastructure project that has helped the CCP gain a foothold in many countries across the globe.
As for Russia, they seem to have secured some assurances from the Taliban as well. A statement released last night said that the Russian embassy is “now under the protection of the Taliban.” That’s an even stranger pair of bedfellows when you consider how the Russians (actually the Soviet Union) were chased out of the country in 1989. But Russia also has a vested interest in maintaining some semblance of stability in the area and can buy a lot of understanding from the Taliban with a few pallets of cash.
So it looks like it will be a cozy relationship between the Taliban and two of our largest adversaries. Man, this entire exercise is just looking better and better, isn’t it?