Tue, 21 Mar 2023

Beijing [China], February 5 (ANI): China is one of the few countries that are committed to expanding dealings with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hong Kong-based Asia Times newspaper reported.

China in mid-2021 welcomed a Taliban delegation. The country showed its willingness to recognise the Taliban as the US signalled towards its planned withdrawal. In early January 2023, a Chinese firm agreed to sign a 25-year contract for oil extraction in Afghanistan.

There is also the possibility that a Chinese state-owned company will be contracted to operate a copper mine in the country.

According to Asia Times, it is unsurprising that as western countries withdraw almost all their links with Afghanistan, China is willing to increase its commercial presence in the country. Although traditionally, its Afghan policy has not been a diplomatic priority, it now sees opportunities.

The Asia Times report said that greater active engagement with Afghanistan will enable China to benefit in several ways. Afghanistan is one of the world's most resource-rich countries, but its security conditions have constrained the development of the sector.

The value of Afghanistan's untapped mineral deposits, such as copper, iron and lithium is estimated at almost a trillion US dollars. In terms of crude oil, it has 1.6 billion barrels. As for natural gas, Afghanistan possesses 16 trillion cubic feet and has access to 500 million barrels of natural gas liquids.

China's domestic energy supply is limited both by geology and energy density, and its dependence on other countries leads to "energy security anxieties."Access to Afghanistan's natural resources, then, not only provides economic incentives for China to increase its commercial presence in the country. It also has the potential to help ease its growing demand for energy, according to Asia Times.

China prioritises involvement with Afghanistan to meet its short-term energy security.

Concerned over the potential spillover of militants from Kabul into the country's western Xinjiang, China has stepped in and engaged with the Taliban, promising trade and investment, Afghan Diaspora Network reported.

More than a year after the United States and NATO pulled out of the Central Asian country, China is one of the few countries that kept their embassies open in Afghanistan even after the Taliban took over in August 2021.

It is worth mentioning that the Taliban during its first rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 had harboured a number of foreign extremist groups, including Uyghur militants.

China is primarily interested in Afghanistan for security related and specifically preventing any breach of militancy in the Uyghur areas of China. Still, the Taliban's attack kept Beijing from maintaining its relationship with them. (ANI)

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