Terrorist group Taliban was recently reported calling China as its friend. China is looking to expand its sphere of influence to include Afghanistan now that all US military presence in the country has been withdrawn. The Taliban immediately launched a huge offensive that saw it take over large swathes of territory from Afghan government control. On one hand, China publicly objected the American decision to pull out its troops and is in the process of bringing all Chinese citizens back, it has already jumped in bed with the Taliban, promising the economic revival of the country once the war ends.
China plans on taking over the rebuilding of a nation plagued for decades by civil warfare as part of its Belt and Road initiative wherein it completes infrastructural projects in developing countries so to acquire soft power. The Taliban and China alike believe that America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan will result in the regime’s defeat at the hands of Taliban, which will then assume command of the entire country.
The Taliban has welcomed China’s offer and assured the safety of Chinese workers that will help construct infrastructure and recover a war-torn country. A Taliban spokesperson named Suhail Shaheen, while being interviewed by the South China Morning Post, claimed that the Taliban’s still ongoing offensive has resulted in the group occupying about 85% of all territory in Afghanistan. He also vowed to fight against terrorist groups like Al Queda and ISIS.
Another incentive for China to help the Taliban is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) that wages an insurgency against Chinese rule in the Xinjiang province. China worries that the group may establish a base of operations in Afghanistan from whence to conduct its activities. However, Suhail stated that the Taliban have no intention of aiding ETIM, completely skimming over China’s oppression and genocide of their geographic and religious neighbours, the Uyghur Muslims.
Afghanistan is also believed to be store to prodigious amounts of valuable minerals such as copper, coal, gold, lithium and mercury (worth at least $1 trillion) alongside larges oil reserves. Nearly all these natural resources remain unharvested and by allowing Chinese investment and construction in Afghanistan, the Taliban is basically mortgaging their country to a foreign power in exchange for support to topple a government.