(By Deutsche Welle) China has staked its economic future on deeper integration with Central Asia. But as the US withdraws from Afghanistan, Beijing is concerned that a renewed civil war there could thwart regional development.
As the US prepares to scale back its military presence in Afghanistan this year, China has begun to contemplate a geopolitical “march westwards”. Beijing hopes to trigger an economic boom in its restive western Xinjiang province by re-vitalizing the ancient Silk Road, which runs through its Central and South Asian neighbors.
Beijing has largely taken a low-profile and cautious approach toward the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. But there is growing concern among the Chinese leadership that NATO could leave behind a security vacuum in Afghanistan, which would potentially jeopardize China’s economic investments in the broader region.
“If they remain in a civil war, we can’t make any money there,” Jin Canrong, an expert on China’s foreign policy at Rinmin University in Beijing, told DW. “China’s stance is very simple: China would like to see a capable central government and wants to see a stable Afghanistan, open to the world market.”