Mon, September 24, 2012
China > China & World > SCO Summit 2012

China to fill vacuum in Afghanistan with waning US presence ?

2012-06-11 05:26:43 GMT2012-06-11 13:26:43(Beijing Time)

By Li Hongmei, Special for Sina English

Some speculations are running wild since China-hosted 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit June 6-7, that China may extend its influence in Afghanistan after the United States draws down its forces in the country by 2014.

Not a few Western analysts hold the opinion that, if necessary, China may find it necessary to deploy troops into the country through the Wakhan Corridor, a communication that links Afghanistan and China, once the United States has scaled back its presence in Afghanistan.

So far, China has never sent its military into Afghanistan - with which it shares a 76-kilometer border - nominally because it was focusing attention on economic development.

A delegation led by Afghan president Hamid Karzai was invited by President Hu Jintao to attend the annual summit that took place in Beijing. The organization is an intergovernmental mutual security bloc founded a decade ago by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

China, along with other members, granted Afghanistan observer status to the organization on June 7. And a joint declaration between Afghanistan and China to exchange intelligence and strengthen cooperation against terrorism, illegal immigration, illegal arms and drug trafficking was signed by Hu and Karzai on June 8 after a series of talks between the two leaders at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

"At present, Afghanistan has entered into a critical transition period," said Hu to Karzai during their meeting. "China is a trustworthy neighbor and friend of Afghanistan."

Some western analysts believe that countries including China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia may step up involvement in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, forming a "NATO of the East."

But what is more in the interest of China is to root out “Three Evils” it shares with Kabul, in the form of terrorists, separatists and religious extremists, which also pose a shared threat to many other countries in the world.

Also, China will offer to add something positive to the post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan, on the basis that both sides will fully respect and accommodate regional countries' reasonable concerns and interests, and work to promote regional peace, stability and development.

By the Joint Declaration signed by the two leaders, China and Afghanistan will enhance coordination and cooperation under the United Nations and other multilateral frameworks, stay in contacts and coordinate positions on major regional and international issues.

The establishment of China-Afghanistan Strategic and Cooperative Partnership is aimed to further deepen the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two countries, not targeting any third party, said the document.

China has never reached out a meddling hand into others’ sphere of interests. Instead, some Western countries constantly play up the so-called “China Threat” to estrange China and its neighbors, and even by hook and crook vilify China’s efforts to establish a friendly neighborhood.

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