China Hit Afghan War But Fears Resurgent Islamic Militancy In Xinjiang
The Chinese government rarely passes up a chance to accuse the United States of military adventurism and hegemony. In the case of Afghanistan, though, it has changed its tone, warning that Washington now bears the responsibility for the hasty end to its two-decade war there, Steven Lee Myers reported for the New York Times.
“The United States, which created the Afghan issue in the first place, should act responsibly to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said this month at a forum in Beijing.
“It should not simply shift the burden onto others and withdraw from the country with the mess left behind unattended.” While China has not called on President Biden to reverse the military withdrawal he ordered, statements by senior officials made it clear that they would blame the United States for any insecurity that spreads in the region.
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — neither of them close friends of the American president — raised concerns about the withdrawal in a call the two leaders had in late June, citing “the increasingly complicated and severe security situation,” according to the state news agency Xinhua.
An explosion and vehicle crash that killed nine Chinese workers in Pakistan on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, has punctuated China’s fears of regional instability in the wake of the final American military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaos that is now spreading across the country.
China was quick to describe the explosion as an act of terrorism. Pakistan later described it as an accident, but the details remain murky, and China has previously found itself the target of threats from those opposed to its growing economic and diplomatic influence in the region. Pakistan’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, said on Thursday that investigators had found traces of explosives, presumably on the bus carrying the Chinese workers.
“Terrorism cannot be ruled out,” he wrote on Twitter. “They’re certainly feeling nervous,” said Barnett R. Rubin, a former State Department official and United Nations adviser on Afghanistan who is a senior fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.
With only a residual military contingent left to protect the American Embassy in Kabul, the Taliban have been steadily expanding their political control as Afghan government forces crumble or retreat.
This month, Taliban forces seized Badakhshan, the province that reaches the mountainous Chinese border through the Wakhan Corridor. While that narrow territory poses little direct security threat, China fears that the breakdown of order in Afghanistan could spill out of the country to other neighbors, including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. Mr. Wang is traveling through Central Asia this week with the Afghan situation high on the agenda.
“We don’t want to see a turbulent country around us that becomes such a soil for terrorist activities,” said Li Wei, an analyst at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a research organization in Beijing affiliated with the Ministry of State Security.