Abstract: Chinese Involvement in Afghanistan and the International Implications

After a decades long war in Afghanistan, the United States has committed to a program of removing military troops from the region.  The removal of American troops has created a power vacuum, as evidenced by growing instability within the Afghan government and society; the 2014 presidential elections were marred by allegations of fraud and the Taliban has experienced a recent resurgence. A stabilizing, external force, once represented through American involvement, is currently missing from Afghanistan.  It is a role that China has shown interest in filling.  China has invested billions in Afghan mineral extraction and has recently attempted to facilitate discussion between the Afghan government and Taliban officials.

China’s role in the international system is currently at a crossroad.  Many Americans see China as a threat to the United States’ global dominance.  However, even the most qualified professors of international relations do not know for certain what role China will play in international affairs in the near future.  China could choose to internally strengthen, perhaps by building up its military or by diversifying its economy.  China could also pursue a more global role, in which it increases its political or humanitarian presence in other countries.  Because researching China’s emerging role in the entire international system is too complex for a two-week project, I will instead focus specifically on Chinese involvement in Afghanistan.  This small example could shed light to the entirety of China’s future role in the international system.

This proposed research will seek to uncover whether China has enough incentive to involve itself in Afghan affairs in the long term, and, if China chooses to do so, the international implications of the move, as seen through the lens of international theory.

I will examine both primary and secondary resources that deal with the topic at hand, so I can gather evidence to compile into a paper.  I will research Chinese incentives by reading journal articles, as well as examining English translations of speeches given by Chinese officials.  The proposed research will also develop an interpretation of the international implications of a more globally involved China.  Because I will need access to many scholarly books involving international relations theory and Afghan-Chinese relations, Swem will be my primary resource.  I will supplement my findings with books found from my local library.