As predicted for months, it has been China that has backed Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan and now that the US is officially out, the masks can come off.
China has learned to play the Great Game of the 21st century better than any other country. It has built a global economic empire that has given it control over most of the world’s markets. It rarely uses military strength, but rather capitalizes on a waning USA – filling the void that the latter leaves behind as it retreats from global rule.
In Afghanistan we have witnessed this play out exactly as described. The USA pulls out and instead of a Western compliant regime taking over, the Taliban has now risen to power. However, it did not accomplish this by way of its own merits as witnessed in its losses in the Panjshir valley, but rather with Chinese support.
In response to China’s backing, the Taliban has agreed to support Beijng’s Belt and Road initiative – a big win for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The next few months will be critical for Beijing if it hopes to cement a leadership role in the post US Afghanistan. Until the Panjshir Valley resistance is put down, China’s rule over Afghanistan remains elusive. Given the stakes that control of Afghanistan holds – it will be surprising if CCP controlled China does not see it through.