Chinese Interest in Afghanistan After the US Withdrawal


China’s rise as a large and emerging power needs peace and sustenance in its neighbourhood. The ongoing instability and uncertainty in Afghanistan will have negative implications for China. The Chinese dream 2050, aims to become a fully developed nation that requires a peaceful Afghanistan. Afghanistan has faced terrorism, political turmoil and a worse situation of law and order, which is a serious concern for China. In the aftermath of the War on Terror, the US has announced a withdrawal from Afghanistan. This plan will enable China to bring economic development, governance and international support.

Chinese Policy Towards Afghanistan

China is working to include Afghanistan under the umbrella of the CPEC projects, which will strengthen Afghanistan’s economy, boosting trade and facilitating Afghanistan institutions. China is also playing its role in the Afghan Peace Process and emphasizing on “Afghanistan based in Afghanistan” Peace Process. Hence the role of China is crucial due to its soft image.

Chinese Policy After US Withdrawal

The Chinese Foreign Policy has taken a shift after the US withdrawal. It aims at strengthening its role in the Peace Process, building institutions, attracting foreign investments, and enhancing Afghan defence capabilities. The strategic and economic value of Afghanistan and Chinese economic interests will enhance the bilateral ties and cooperation. China is the largest foreign investor in Afghanistan mainly in the mining and energy sectors. These involvements are a positive indication for building peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

The Need for Chinese Economic Investment

Chinese economic investments in Afghanistan are significant in peacebuilding, prosperity and stability. China opposes other foreign actors in Afghanistan, but it also benefits itself from other stakeholders through its soft image. China also emphasizes the principles of peaceful coexistence which enhances its soft image among other stakeholders.

Recently, a group of Chinese firms agreed to invest 400 million USD in coal-fired electricity in Afghanistan. This investment shows the economic engagement of China with mineral-rich Afghanistan. Afghan spokesperson for the Power department, Mr Sangar Niazi talked to Arab News regarding the partnership. He said “Several Chinese companies during their meeting with President Ghani showed their preparedness for investing $400 million in the energy sector through which we can generate 300 megawatts of electricity”. The project is significant as it shows the growing Chinese interest in Afghanistan.

China is currently involved in the reconstruction of infrastructure, institutions, economy, defence, politics, health and education, in Afghanistan. It is providing training and material to educational institutes and help the Afghan refugees and war-affected people. It is also aiming to enhance its role in solving the problem for which NATO and the US have been fighting since 2001. Hence it can argue that Beijing’s policy is according to the morals and national conditions of China.

Chinese Involvement in the Peace Process

China has actively interacted in the peace process of Afghanistan. Unconditional assistance, investment, for economic development, enhancing bilateral trade and Chinese scholarships to Afghan students are some steps taken by Beijing. Hence these steps have enhanced Chinese effectiveness in the Afghan Peace Process. Beijing pursues a non-aligned and neutral foreign policy towards Afghanistan that will work with the Afghan legitimate government. Moreover, it will distance itself from non-governmental actors including the Taliban and the US.

Comparison of Chinese and the US Policies

Beijing is aware of the realities and problems in Afghanistan. Therefore, it adheres to the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of independent countries. It also provides unconditional assistance to weak countries. While the US and its allies who have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 have a contrary posture of involvement; the US has been pursuing victory in Afghanistan since 2001 while China desires to have a stable Afghanistan in its neighbour.

Beijing also wants to garner the support of the countries in the region to build peace and stability. The trilateral talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China and the Istanbul process are initiatives by China to promote stability. Thus, these initiatives show the Chinese adherence to multilateralism, unlike the US.


The Chinese policy has taken a shift after Biden’s announced plan of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. China is aiming to build institutions, attracting foreign investment and enhancing its role in the Afghan Peace Process. These steps will probably have implications for peacebuilding and prosperity in Afghanistan. Moreover, Chinese economic investments in Afghanistan will also enhance its soft image among other stakeholders. Chinese principles of non-interference and providing assistance to weak countries are different from those of the US and its allies. Therefore it can be argued that Beijing is well aware of the realities in Afghanistan. Lastly, it can achieve what the US cannot achieve in Afghanistan.


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