China’s Global Times state-run newspaper lamented in a column Sunday that a full American withdrawal from Afghanistan would pose “grave challenges” to China’s ruling Communist Party, whereas U.S. investment in Afghanistan’s economic stability could yield economic benefits to China.
China borders Afghanistan to its west and has repeatedly attempted to create a role for itself in the 20-year conflict there. It has not engaged in any formal military action though, and has failed to gain traction as a significant mediator between the Afghan government and the Taliban jihadist organization. Afghanistan’s location places it in a key location for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its plan to build infrastructure connecting eastern China to Western Europe by selling predatory loans to underdeveloped nations then trapping the countries in lucrative deals with Chinese construction companies. Afghanistan is a member of the BRI.
Former President Donald Trump brokered an agreement with the legitimate Afghan government and the Taliban last year that would have seen the end of the U.S. military presence in the country by May 1, 2021. President Joe Biden announced in April that he would extend the war through September, a policy change that preceded a surge in violence nationwide.