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World News | Has China trapped Afghanistan in its sinister debt-trap diplomacy?


Chinese President Xi Jinping (Image: Reuters)

New Delhi [India]June 7 (ANI): After letting smaller nations “override” China, the villain in current global politics is now setting its sights on Afghanistan, the war-torn South Asian country that has been facing growing global influence . Marginalized because of its appalling human rights record.

The chronically stressed financial system has led to widespread unemployment, economic deprivation and high inflation in Afghanistan. China has seized the opportunity to gain a foothold in the affected country. From oil extraction to lithium mines, China is eyeing Afghanistan’s untapped and underdeveloped reserves and facilities.

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The Taliban find themselves with dwindling allies, blindly following Beijing, and desperately need some economic assistance.

While China insists its interests in Afghanistan are genuinely altruistic, experts and observers insist there are other interests at play.

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The foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan recently met in Islamabad to boost Beijing’s tireless efforts to open up new investment avenues under its Belt and Road Initiative.

In addition to discussing a series of regional issues including security, the three parties also agreed to further extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.

Observers believe Beijing is seeking to exploit Afghanistan’s untapped natural resources, which are estimated to be worth more than $3 trillion.

The country is rich in resources such as copper, gold, oil, natural gas, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron ore, rare earths, lithium, chromium, lead, zinc, gemstones, talc, sulfur, travertine, gypsum and marble .

Earlier in January, the Taliban-led government signed a contract with Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin and develop oil reserves in Sar Pul province.

Zabihullah Mujahid, an official Afghan spokesman, said on Twitter that under the contract, Chinese companies will invest $150 million a year in Afghanistan. The 25-year contract, whose investment will increase to $540 million after three years.

As Western aid to Afghanistan dries up, it’s a win-win situation for China, which has big plans to invest in several areas, including exploring for lithium reserves.

Professor Dipankar Sengupta, an expert on South Asian political affairs, also explained how China is trying to trap Afghanistan. He said, “They (China) initially committed to invest $450 million, next year they plan to invest $150 million, and these are in the oil fields. Afghanistan has some oil, it can’t extract it with China. Now this is basically saying that China Basically testing the waters in Afghanistan, because Afghanistan has a lot of mineral reserves. For example, it has lithium, and it also has huge iron ore reserves. So China is a growing economy and is very hungry for material resources. The reason why China is staring at Lithium is used because China wants to make a big splash in the field of electric vehicles, and lithium is one of the key components in making batteries. Therefore, China sees Afghanistan as a country where it can mine the precious material.

Why can China use Afghanistan’s mineral resources so easily? According to the Brookings Institution, the Taliban’s rule has gradually strengthened, becoming more authoritarian and dogmatic, just like their rule in the 1990s.

Disenfranchised, individual rights are denied women access to education, work, and even travel and healthcare in the public sphere.

This led to the suspension of operations in the country by major international humanitarian organizations. Foreign aid has almost dried up.

Almost half of the Afghan population is expected to face severe food insecurity between November 2022 and March 2023, with 6 million people on the brink of famine. (Source: Brookings Institution)

The deteriorating economic situation in Afghanistan has forced the Taliban-led government to allow Chinese investment into the country.

The security issue is currently China’s top concern in Afghanistan, especially in the most remote areas. Major Chinese investments have been targeted by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and other terrorist groups.

On December 12 last year, the day after Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu met with Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai for talks on the security of Chinese investments, ISIS-K attacked a Chinese home in Kabul. Owned hotel, this hotel is very popular with Chinese citizens.

Islamic Jihad groups, especially ISIS-K, are targeting China’s “imperialist” policies such as its repression of the Uyghur Muslim community and its Belt and Road Initiative.

Despite China’s exponential growth in investment in Afghanistan, concerns remain about the safety of its citizens and workers.

Dr MS Pratibha, a research fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, said, “The Chinese are very aware of the threat ISIS poses to their programs. So I believe one of the things the Chinese would expect from the Taliban is to ensure political stability in Afghanistan and ensured that many of its projects were protected by the Taliban.

ISIS-K published an editorial in its Voice of Khorasan magazine last year expressing concerns about the Taliban’s relationship with Beijing, Militant Wire reported. The editorial even highlighted concerns about China’s expansionist and colonizing agenda.

Working closely with Islamabad, Beijing has approached the Taliban government in Kabul for easy access to Afghanistan.

China was the first country to welcome a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar after US and NATO troops withdrew from war-torn Afghanistan.

Meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin focused on getting Afghanistan to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

While the West continues to distance itself from Afghanistan, China has not hesitated to exploit the country’s trillions of dollars worth of untapped natural resources.

Dr. Deepankar also mentioned, “If the initial investment of $150 million is successful, and then $450 million in two or three stages, and China is able to extract oil from these particular fields, I think China will start investing heavily, especially in lithium. .If China has acquired or monopolized all the resources on the battery side, if China can also monopolize the resources in Afghanistan, then the lithium resources in Afghanistan should be considerable. I think this will be a huge boost. It involves the power of China” .

Central Asia has traditionally been Russia’s sphere of influence, but China has been gearing up to assume a new leadership role in the region following the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently unveiled an ambitious $3.8 billion plan to invest in Central Asia’s development, from building infrastructure to boosting trade.

Through its engagement in the region, China has placed itself at the forefront of competition for political influence and energy assets in the resource-rich region, where Russia is distracted by the war in Ukraine and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which has weakened the U.S. presence. The rise of China will bring new risks to the region, and India needs to be vigilant and aware of them. (Arnie)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)


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