Blog 1: Project Refocus

Earlier this week, I began  research for my project on China’s economic and security interests in Afghanistan. I had originally planned on completing this project earlier on in the summer. However, one thing led to another, and here I am in the beginning of August, just now beginning my research. While I normally wouldn’t advocate leaving projects until the end of summer, the delay actually worked in my favor.

Over the last few months, there have been many advancements with what I’m focusing on. The project was originally intended to gauge China’s potential interest in becoming more engaged with Afghanistan. However, since May, there have been several important updates in Sino-Afghanistan relations that show a direct increase of Chinese involvement with Afghanistan. One of the most important developments was China’s role in fascilitating talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban. The first talk occurred in early July. I believe there was a second meeting scheduled for August, however, the announcement of Mullah Omar’s death has postponed the talk for the foreseeable future.

As a result of these updates, my project will no longer seek to gauge China’s potential interest, as the past few months have proven that increased Sino-Afghan relations is reality. My project will now be split into three main sections: 1, China’s history of diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban (the Soviet War in Afghanistan through current Afghanistan War); 2, reasons why China recently amped up their involvement in Central Asia (economic and security factors); and 3, what China’s ideal outcome would be, and its complications.

While this is only a slight shift in focus, I believed it was important enough to officially update.

Comments

  1. graeme3333 says:

    Very interesting topic and one of great importance to us policy in the region. Are you just looking at Chinese investment in the region? If so I’m sure you’ll take a look at the gwadar port in Pakistan. Do you think it has military implications? Or is it just another economic base along the “new silk road”? However, I don’t think that you can claim that this summer has seen an abrupt increase in Chinese involvement in central Asia. They have been pouring aid and investment into the region for the past decade as us/NATO operation temporarily stabilized the region. Of course the negotiations with the Taliban should not be dismissed, however they have happened and failed before. What makes these negotiations any more likely to succeed than their predecessors? If anything the Taliban is relatively stronger than it was during previous negotiations.

  2. To clarify, I’m focusing on recent economic and political/security developments in Sino-Afghan relations. This means that although I will touch on Sino-Pakistan relations, it will be done so within the context of Sino-Afghan relations, ie nothing too specific regarding Pakistan. Although I’m sure it’d be interesting, it’s a bit too expansive for a two week project.

    From what I’ve research so far, there actually has been an increase in Chinese political involvement with Afghanistan starting around 2011. Although China has engaged in economic activities within Afghanistan during the recent war (for example, the Anyak copper mine), it was not particularly invested with Afghanistan within a political/security realm until it became clear that US military troops were leaving sooner than later.

    Regarding the Taliban negotiations, it is important to note that the July talks between the Afghan government and Taliban officials were the first official talks between the two sides (hosted in Pakistan w/representatives from the US and China as well). Although I’m not sure the talks have a particularly high chance of succeeding, I would say there is a greater chance than before. I would argue that China’s involvement is important; they have a greater diplomatic history with the Taliban as compared to the United States. For example, China was one of the few non-Muslim countries that ever had direct contact/talks with Mullah Omar. (More examples will be in the paper). Also, although the Taliban may be doing relatively well militarily right now, the increasing threat of ISIS within Afghanistan (and of ISIS stealing Taliban recruits) places the Taliban in a very different geopolitical reality than that of 5 years ago. Whether ISIS will make Taliban more receptive to a diplomatic solution, I do not know. The death of Mullah Omar has also seemingly triggered a growing divide within the Taliban. Again, I cannot predict how this will effect the overall strength of the Taliban or the group’s receptiveness to talks.

    Hopefully this helps clarify my post / answer your questions.