(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 2021, they have never stopped trying to get recognition from other countries around the world. China has now chosen Zhao Zhaohui as a full-time ambassador to Afghanistan, although even neighbouring countries like Pakistan are hesitant to offer recognition. Although there are diplomatic representations from other nations in Afghanistan, these offices were already in place before the Taliban came to power. In other words, China has broken new ground by becoming the first nation to establish direct relations with the government of the Taliban.
Before talking of how China's move in Afghanistan may potentially influence India, it is important to know what China is currently aiming for in Afghanistan, for which it is willing to overlook world condemnation and cultivate ties with the Taliban, a regime known for its extremist and medieval mentality.
To recall, the Taliban seized Kabul and controlled the country from 1996 to 2001, though Rabbani (President of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 and again from November to December 2001) continued to command a resistance effort in the part of the country under the umbrella of the Northern Alliance.
Only three nations -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates --ever recognised the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government, and despite repeated attempts, the Taliban never obtained control of Afghanistan's United Nations seat, which remained in the hands of Rabbani supporters.
China Wants to Challenge The US
In essence, China's current goal is to establish itself as a superpower globally, and it is currently trying to establish a foothold in Afghanistan. This effort is a part of the same strategy as the one in which it wants to send a message to the world that China can establish its dominance with a particular country just as the United States can.
Additionally, China has other economic interests that may be realised through Afghanistan. Lithium, popularly known as 'white gold', is found in Afghanistan, and China has its sights set on the country's riches of this element. There is a good chance that China will carry out crude oil exploration in Afghanistan, and the country is also interested in the mineral riches that Afghanistan possesses.
The Taliban believe their alliance with China will create millions of new employment possibilities in their nation. On the other hand, China is very interested in expanding its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Afghanistan to reach countries in Central Asia.
In addition, Chinese Muslims fleeing persecution in their home province of Xinjiang seek sanctuary in Afghanistan. If China can cultivate good relations with the administration of the Taliban, it will make it easier for China to exert its authority over these volatile areas.
Impact on International Fraternity
The Taliban have high expectations that their growing ties with China will help them shed their pariah status in the eyes of the world community. China has made numerous attempts to lobby for the inclusion of the Taliban in the international community, but due to the Taliban's oppressive rule and dismal track record regarding human rights, powerful countries worldwide do not want to have any contact with the organisation.
However, China is solely concerned with its own interests, so it has no qualms about shaking hands with the authoritarian rule of the Taliban.
Effects on the North-South Corridor Project
China's close relationship with Afghanistan may also present difficulties for India. Through ambitious initiatives such as constructing the Chabahar Port in adjacent Iran, India is working towards establishing a connection with the countries of Central Asia.
China's involvement in Afghanistan may affect other international initiatives, such as India's North-South Corridor. India had begun construction on projects in Afghanistan worth millions of dollars before the Taliban came to power, but those projects have yet to be finished.
The government of the Taliban wants India to finish such projects, but China's presence could now affect India's incomplete projects.
Pakistan may suffer a big blow due to the burgeoning alliance between China and Afghanistan. For a long period, the Taliban were thought of as Pakistan's proxy, but in recent years, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have become strained, leading to skirmishes on the border. In the past, China would enter Afghanistan through Pakistan, but now that China has established direct contact with the Taliban, this is not good news for Pakistan.
The question that needs to be answered right now is whether or not China will be successful in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has earned the nickname "the graveyard of empires" due to its turbulent history. In Afghanistan, great powers like the United States and the British Empire in the 19th century, the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, and powerful nations like the United States in the early 21st century have all suffered defeats. Is it, therefore, now China's time to shine?