- GS-2: Indian Neighbourhood
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Taliban and China
Context: China is filling the power vacuum created by abrupt US withdrawal from Afghanistan & Taliban taking over the country.
Do You Know?
- Since 2001, the U.S. has spent $2.26 trillion in Afghanistan, out of which $1.53 trillion was spent on defence.
- The Afghan economy did not flourish, with 90% of its population still living below poverty line, with less than $2 a day.
China and Taliban
- The return of the Taliban is seen as a victory of Chinese diplomacy and a failure for the USA. China (also, Russia) have kept their embassies running in Kabul while the western embassies have disappeared.
- Afghanistan has rare-earth metals and huge deposits of copper. The Chinese are interested in these resources as they have the technology to excavate them.
- Also, China is engaging with the Taliban, to ensure success of Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). This being a huge investment requires many years of successful operation to yield profit. Therefore, Taliban support is necessary for China.
What are the intentions of China’s investment strategy in BRI (more particularly in CPEC)?
- The cost of production is lower in this region and therefore Chinese firms could gain by shifting their production bases from China to these regions.
- Investing in these regions meant access to bigger markets for Chinese firms
- It also enables more uniform regional development for China (western underdeveloped part of China can emerge as economic hub)
- Chinese firms could evade high-tariff & non-tariff measures targeted at Chinese goods when they begin exporting from here.
- Investing in Africa and Asia has also reduced some of China’s energy requirements, enabling China to access cheaper foreign energy (oil and power) and minerals.
Challenges for China
- No businesses can flourish in the presence of terrorism. With Taliban gaining power, there is concern of resurgence of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Daesh, and the Islamic State.
- Taliban is also known to have a soft corner for the East Turkestan Islamic Movement — a militant group active in the Uighur province of China (Muslim majority province).
- There are doubts on the economic capability to repay Chinese granted loans or projects. Pakistan is unable to repay a China-funded energy project, built under the BRI.
- The Taliban ruling groups are far from united, making it impossible to make any reliable domestic and international policy predictions. This doesn’t fit with the stable autocracy like China.
- Rebellions, factional wars, will be the likely events in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. These issues will spread to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and other essential rings in the BRI chain. Hence, the cash flow into the BRI will constantly face a risk of interruption
In a game of chess, the U.S. move of vacating Afghanistan may in fact prove costly for China.
Can you answer this question now?
Chinese presence in Afghanistan with an all-weather ally Pakistan may sound trouble for India. Discuss. (250 words, 15 marks).