Washington DC [US], July 11 (ANI): As the US is merely weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan, speculation is rife that China may step into the country which is often described as the "graveyard of empires".
Afghanistan has a known history for its ability to resist powerful states. The British Empire lost a conflict there in 1842. The mighty Soviet Union faced defeat at the hands of US-backed mujahideen during the 1980s.
Now, after the two-decade travail in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden announced in April that the US had "achieved its 2001 objectives" and would withdraw from the country.
According to The National Interest magazine, although the Taliban have violated the Afghan peace deal, the US withdrawal is now almost entirely complete, with only a handful of US personnel remaining in the country to protect the embassy.
US geopolitical expert Gordon Chang believes that Beijing appears to be the next in line to enter the war-torn country, to capitalize on US withdrawal, by expanding its political and economic ties there.
For Beijing, Afghanistan is of great geopolitical importance. It offers a portal through which the Chinese military might access the Arabian Sea, via Iran or Pakistan. The country could also provide access to Iran and the Middle East, and a route to the Indian Ocean and on to Africa.
"Because the Chinese are more vicious, yes, I think they'll have a better chance of achieving their goals in Afghanistan than us," Chang told Fox News. "But having a better chance doesn't mean they'll succeed. I think they will just take longer to fail."
"We've seen China establish relationships in unruly areas, but this would be a much bigger commitment for them," he said, pointing out that Afghanistan is one of 14 countries bordering mainland China. "This is not some far away commitment where they can just pull up stakes, once China goes in it is going to be extremely hard for them to get out."
According to observers, Chinese leaders have reportedly already been negotiating a deal with Kabul authorities to invest in Afghanistan's infrastructure through China's international "Belt and Road Initiative."
The trillion-dollar program has funded multiple projects, generally focusing on hard infrastructure 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, of which Afghanistan has plenty, he said.
Tapping into Afghan's vast natural resources has been a long-standing goal of China.
According to Chang, the deal with the Afghan government would reportedly extend the USD 62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project started in 2013.
Beijing will expect the Taliban to ignore the "genocidal" oppression of their fellow Muslims, the 12 million Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang province, which sits close to the Afghan and Pakistani borders. (ANI)