China’s Afghan position paper reveals reluctance to invest in political solutions

Photo Courtesy Channel News Asia

China‘s recent release of an 11-point position paper on Afghanistan demonstrates its growing involvement in international diplomacy. The document, which follows a 12-point position paper on Ukraine, outlines China’s interests in the region with a focus on counterterrorism and combating the Uyghur separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). However, the paper also highlights China’s reluctance to invest significant political capital in resolving complex issues.

While China’s diplomatic efforts have become increasingly visible, its priorities remain narrow. The Afghan Paper calls for “moderate and prudent governance” in Afghanistan, including the establishment of an “open and inclusive political structure” that respects the rights of women and all ethnic groups. However, these points are tempered by China’s denunciation of the “enormous losses” caused by attempted “democratic transformation” and its respect for Taliban rule.

China’s primary concern in Afghanistan is counterterrorism, with offers of assistance, reconstruction, and infrastructure investment in exchange for the Taliban’s suppression of ETIM. This approach has been in place since the US withdrawal in August 2021, but both sides have struggled to deliver on their promises reports Channel News Asia.

Despite China’s increased diplomatic presence, it remains hesitant to engage in high-risk strategies, such as leveraging its relationships with Afghanistan’s neighbours to pressure the Taliban. This caution, coupled with the Taliban’s factional nature, will limit China’s ability to influence the group’s behaviour.

China’s diplomatic overtures do have some benefits, however, such as improving its image in the Global South and reaffirming its support for state sovereignty and opposition to non-UNSC sanctions. By positioning itself as a peacemaker, China can engage with opposing sides in global disputes and further its interests without making binding commitments.

However, until China is willing to take on greater risks and invest more political capital, its mediation efforts are unlikely to achieve lasting and transformative results.

World News


Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.

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