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China cannot fill NATO vacuum in Afghanistan

Friday, January 23, 2015

Subject

China's relations with Afghanistan.

Significance

Reports have emerged over the course of this month that China has been mediating between the Kabul government and the Taliban. It hosted a Taliban delegation in November 2014 and hosted President Ashraf Ghani the previous month, on his inaugural trip abroad after he formed his national unity government in September.

Impacts

  • Chinese investment in infrastructure, especially in extractive industries, will improve Afghanistan's potential for all foreign investors.
  • Cheaper funding and labour could make Chinese firms tough competitors for other countries' in infrastructure and extractive industries.
  • An influx of Chinese workers could generate friction with local communities and become a contentious point in Afghan politics.
  • Projects will suffer delays due to the uncertain security outlook, compounded by Beijing's reluctance to provide security guarantees.
  • For China to send troops, even at Kabul's request, would be a radical departure.
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