Why China signed a $540 million energy deal with the Taliban — RT World News


Despite its distaste for Islamic fundamentalism, Beijing is pragmatic about energy security

Afghanistan, under the control of the Taliban, has signed an agreement with a Chinese company that will invest 540 million dollars in the development of oil and gas fields in the country. The deal is the first major investment in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the war-torn country in August 2021, following the withdrawal of US forces after 20 years of occupation. Although Beijing does not recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government, it recognizes that the group controls a neighboring country with natural resources vital to China’s economic security and strategy. Thus, while Western diplomats fled Kabul in the wake of the Taliban movement, Chinese negotiators stayed put.

The decision to make a deal with the Taliban is an extension of China’s strategic energy security dilemma. As the world’s most populous country and industrial giant, China is also the world’s largest energy consumer. He does not have enough resources at home to meet his needs, growing as the country grows rapidly. This has left China as a major net importer of oil and natural gas, which has been a driving factor in many of its recent partnerships, including with Russia, Ecuador and the Gulf states in the Middle East.

While China’s ties to these countries are strong, China’s energy imports have a strategic Achilles’ heel – these resources must be imported from Russia, by sea, and through strategic disputed areas where the United States has militarized. It also includes the South China Sea. The United States seeks to dominate China’s entire periphery and, in the event of a conflict, seeks to embargo shipping to cut off energy supplies. Although maintaining such a blockade is costly, there are “strategic straits” such as the Straits of Malacca that provide tangible results.

Recognizing this weakness, China has in recent years sought to unify Eurasia by developing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), building transcontinental roads and railways, and building new logistics routes to allow goods to enter and leave China. beyond the reach of American forces. For example, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a cornerstone of the BRI, which sets the course for the western Indian Ocean, creating a shortcut to the Middle East that bypasses militarily vulnerable maritime areas.

But no strategic roadmap, including the BRI, would be complete without including Afghanistan. This Central Asian country shares a short border with China and sits at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. This means that Kabul is an important part of China’s security and strategy. Although the country has been unstable and unusable for decades, the end of the US-led war against it and the Taliban’s takeover have given Afghanistan relative stability than usual. Although the Islamic State (IS) insurgency continues to carry out terrorist attacks, Afghanistan is at its most stable point in 40 years (which is, of course, a very low level).

Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources and has proven reserves of 1.75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as oil. For China, this is important, and for the Taliban, securing foreign investment is critical, given that their country’s economy is at an all-time low. Afghanistan has not had access to such money for decades, a problem compounded by the corruption of the US-installed regime. These circumstances allowed two opposing ideological poles, the Islamic fundamentalists and the communist state, to come together and sign a half-billion-dollar deal.

By signing this agreement, China pledges to respect Afghanistan’s internal politics and maintain its traditional position of non-interference. While this offers a critical advantage and alternative to the United States, which has tried and failed to impose its ideological views on the country, it also means that Beijing should not ignore the Taliban’s extremist policies, such as its discrimination. women excluded from education and much of the labor market.

The Taliban make decisions about women

Because China condemns Islamic fundamentalism to the extent that it condemns it as a separatist ideology in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and sees the imposition of a secular regime on the Uyghur minority as essential to stability in the region. A set of policies attacked by the West. However, China’s foreign policy is pragmatic and it is in the national and strategic interest to establish a working relationship with the Taliban state on its borders. China needs access to energy, and where better to find it than in a neighboring country?

Therefore, Beijing probably thinks that by investing in Afghanistan, it can achieve stability by increasing the welfare of the country. Although there are many reservations about the nature of the Taliban regime, isn’t it time for a change? Decades of carpet bombing and war on Afghanistan’s path to democracy have been a tragic failure, leaving the country in shambles as a failed state. This country deserves a chance to make money and recover before starving to death from war and US-led sanctions. The Chinese model offers something new, positive and different for Afghanistan.

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