Amid US withdrawal, China ramping up its involvement in Afghanistan

Beijing: China appears to be preparing to ramp up its involvement in Afghanistan amid US troops withdrawal — with Beijing eyeing the war-torn nation for investment and influence opportunities.

According to The New York Post, in recent weeks, Beijing has been vocal in slamming the United States for pushing forward with its troop withdrawal, citing the deteriorating situation on the ground. Still, it had not made any public commitments regarding a response.

US President Joe Biden has set a deadline of September 11 for the final pullout of the few remaining troops from Afghanistan.

Citing the media reports, the Newspaper outlet reported that the Kabul authorities have become much more deeply engaged with Chinese leaders as the two work toward a deal to invest in Afghanistan’s infrastructure through China’s international “Belt and Road Initiative.”

As per the outlet, the trillion-dollar program has funded multiple projects — generally focusing on hard infrastructures like airports, roads, and seaports — throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It has been used by the Chinese Communist Party to grow its influence by providing infrastructure loans to poorer countries in return for control over local resources.

The media report stated that the deal would extend the USD 62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Beijing-led initiative.

“There is a discussion on a Peshawar-Kabul motorway between the authorities in Kabul and Beijing,” New York Post quoted the sources.

“Linking Kabul with Peshawar by road means Afghanistan’s formal joining of CPEC,” it said.

The outlet further reported that last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed that China and Afghanistan were having discussions on a CPEC extension, though he declined to discuss the matter in detail.