Written by: William Hekman
With the United States withdrawing from Afghanistan, one nation now wants to move into Afghanistan. To almost nobody’s surprise, China is making strategic moves to increase its influence in Afghanistan. What the Chinese desperately want are the estimated $1 trillion of minerals that are in Afghanistan. The biggest prize comes in as the world’s largest lithium reserves, currently untouched as they are deep within the ground along with a multitude of other rare earth metals. Lithium and rare earth metals are the main ingredients for high-tech chips and large-capacity batteries like those found in iPhones and computers worldwide.
Beijing sees the withdrawal as an opportunity for both China and Afghanistan. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Zhou Bo, a former colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, wrote, “With the U.S. withdrawal, Beijing can offer what Kabul needs most: political impartiality and economic investment. Afghanistan, in turn, has what China most prizes: opportunities in infrastructure and industry building — areas in which China’s capabilities are arguably unmatched — and access to $1 trillion (possibly more) in untapped mineral deposits.”
For such a deal to occur, the Taliban would have to do many things to keep the country in check. For one, they will need to have a smooth evacuation of Afghans and foreigners. They will also need to negotiate with other terror groups and warlords to maintain stability in the country. Afghanistan faces a massive economic collapse as it transitions to a new government, which they will perhaps use China to help remedy.
The Taliban has long wanted good relations with the Chinese government, with many saying that Chinese investment into Afghanistan would be “widely accepted.” With the United States withdrawing, it opens an opportunity for China. China desperately wants the $1 trillion in mineral reserves and sees other energy investments in the country.
Photo from: VCG