With the U.S. troop withdrawal in sight, Afghanistan’s future seems less certain than ever. As a neighboring state with significant interests at stake, how does China view and prepare for Afghanistan’s future?
Since 9/11, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has presented a dilemma for China. On the one hand, Beijing instinctively sees American troops in China’s “backyard” as a serious strategic threat. However, China believes that it has benefited from the security that the United States has provided there, especially in terms of curtailing the growth and spread of anti-China terrorist groups. The implication of this dilemma is that China wants the United States to withdraw — but only when the withdrawal is responsible and does not leave a chaotic power vacuum that would destabilize the region. The reality, however, is that the American decision regarding Afghanistan will be made in Washington — not Beijing — and that China must react to whatever moves the United States makes going forward.
Read the full op-ed in War on the Rocks.