Different from the earlier narrative that China was free-riding from U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan, more recent developments have focused on China’s expanding political involvement, deepening security ties, and economic investments in Afghanistan. However, the description of China as the largest, and potentially, the most influential player in Afghanistan is misleading. Through closer scrutiny of the nature and scope of China’s current goals and involvement in Afghanistan, it is easy to draw the conclusion that China’s intervention in Afghanistan is limited.
Traditionally, China’s attitude toward Afghanistan was indifferent and disinterested. This was primarily due to the traditional perception in China that Afghanistan is “the graveyard for great powers.” But it was also due to the fact that the country was marginal as an asset or a liability for China’s national interest. China observed the developments in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks, which quickly distracted the U.S. attention from focusing on the West Pacific. China sought almost no active role in Afghanistan and maintained a low profile in the reconstruction of Afghanistan until around 2010.
This article was originally published by China-US Focus on March 7, 2017. Read the full article here.