Currently there’s an abundance of speculation over how China and Russia are poised to “step into the Afghan gap” – as one analyst in FT has put it. Already in July, less than a month before the ‘shockingly’ fast Taliban blitz across all provinces and into Kabul, the West was perhaps surprised to see a Taliban delegation received so warmly by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi in Tianjin.
It’s now expected that China could be among the first countries to formally recognize the Taliban government, with the latter currently claiming it’s newly “reformed” – the latest evidence of the hardline Islamist group’s old school brutality fully on display notwithstanding.
As America’s military might and trillions of dollars sunk into the failed 20-year long “nation building” bloody conflict and occupation is in retreat, it’s expected that both China and Russia will cautiously bring their diplomatic and financial influence to bear to steer the central Asian country away from terrorism and toward “peaceable reconstruction”.
A new report in Financial Times presents a series of key insights on China and Russia’s possible next moves… “We hope that the Taliban of Afghanistan has united all events and is establishing a political framework that meets the nationwide circumstances of Afghanistan and lays a basis for long-lasting peace in Afghanistan,” Geng Shuang, China’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations was cited in FT as saying.
And a Chinese government advisor and professor at Lanzhou College Zhu Yongbiao, had this to say: “China has benefited from the irresponsible behavior of [the US] which has deeply undermined the worldwide picture of the US and the connection between Washington and its allies.” Indeed a quick look at the gleeful and mocking tone out of English language Chinese state-run media this week, particularly Global Times, confirms as much.
— Lin Jing 林静 (@CGCHINA_CPT) August 17, 2021
Wang Yi, China’s overseas minister, also issued this public message:
“The Afghan Taliban has the utmost sincerity to work towards and realize peace,” a Chinese language assertion that adopted the assembly mentioned. “The Afghan Taliban won’t ever permit any drive to make use of the Afghan territory to interact in acts detrimental to China. The Afghan Taliban believes that Afghanistan ought to develop pleasant relations with neighboring nations and the worldwide group.”
And this additionally from the Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier in the week: “The Afghan Taliban said on multiple occasions that it hopes to grow sound relations with China, looks forward to China’s participation in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development and will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China.”
If you are going to criticise the Taliban, criticise them on our terms. Let’s start with its relationship with China – opening the doors to Chinese state-owned companies to exploit Afghanistan’s untouched rare-earths & calling the Uighur genocide an ‘internal matter for China’. pic.twitter.com/cZMN7gA1jX
— Muhammad Jalal (@jalalayn) August 18, 2021
Furthermore, Moscow based political analyst Arkady Dubnov had this to say of the perspective from Russia:
“We are able to align our pursuits [with China] in opposing the US,” he mentioned. “What is sweet for us is unhealthy for Individuals, what’s unhealthy for us is sweet for Individuals. Immediately the state of affairs is unhealthy for Individuals and so it’s good for us.”
Already the past years have seen closer and closer China-Russia economic and military cooperation. With the US in retreat, Afghanistan apparently presents another front – albeit high risk – for Moscow and Beijing to find common cause.