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Politics & Law

The Afghan-China relationship can dismantle the Indo-Pacific containment of China


Photo from TOLO News, Afghanistan’s first 24-hour news and TV network

TOLO News reported on Jan 10 that Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib “hold talks with senior Chinese officials on Afghanistan-China relations, an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and strategic cooperation between the two countries …

His visit comes as President Ghani’s special envoy Umer Daudzai is on a four-day visit in Pakistan to discuss the Afghan peace process with Pakistani officials as well as political and religious leaders.”

On Jan 21, the Voice of America (VOA) reported that “Afghanistan’s Taliban opened a new round of peace talks Monday (i.e. Jan 21) in Qatar with the United States, the insurgent group said ……

Diplomatic sources privy to the previous meetings told VOA that Taliban and U.S. delegations in their current dialogue are expected to finalize proposals they had exchanged in Abu Dhabi regarding a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan …”

Do not forget that as early as in July 2016, according to Reuters, a delegation led by the “head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, visited Beijing on July 18-22 at the invitation of the Chinese government … ‘We have good terms with different countries of the world and China is one among them,’ said the Taliban official … ‘We wanted the Chinese leadership to help us raise these issues on world forums and help us get freedom from occupying forces from the Taliban visited China earlier this month to discuss the situation in Afghanistan …”

By now, at least three points to note. First, it is highly likely that Taliban will be formally recognized and accepted as a legitimate entity in Afghanistan’s coming political system. The good/evil talk is no longer valid. Instead, co-existence will replace enmity.

Second, assuming Washington would withdraw troops very soon, Afghanistan could by then become a fully sovereign state again. The next question is how this state can become politically stable and economically prosper. Pakistan is and will continue to be the most influential neighbor of Afghanistan. Imran Khan, who assumed as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in Aug 2018, is actually the middle man bringing forth the present US-Taliban talk. Therefore, Pakistan will play the major role in leading Afghanistan to growth. Other important actors are likely to be China and India.

Third, as India cannot afford to be left behind, New Delhi will actively seek to participate into this new regional game. A closer Afghan-China relation will therefore drive India to be friendly rather than hostile toward China, The consequence is very straight forward, namely, India’s interest in Washington’s Indo-Pacific containment of China would diminish.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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