This special episode of the ChinaPower Podcast is the fourth of six featuring the audio from the China Power Project’s sixth annual conference. The third debate took place on December 14, 2021, and featured two experts debating the following proposition: “Within the next two years, China will establish itself as the most influential external power within Afghanistan.”
Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, China has taken measures to support the new Taliban-controlled government, including keeping its embassy open, donating vaccines and aid, and engaging in high-level diplomatic meetings with Taliban officials. Some experts and military strategists believe these actions are signs that Beijing seeks to bring Afghanistan more deeply into its geopolitical orbit. Some envision a future in which Afghanistan stands as a major partner in China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative and the Taliban closely cooperates with Beijing on national security issues such as terrorism. However, others believe China will not be able to secure a significant foothold in Afghanistan due to regional instability, previous failed economic partnerships, and even Beijing’s own concerns about getting too involved in the country.
Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, Senior Fellow for the Center for International Strategy and Security (CISS) at Tsinghua University and China Forum expert, argued that within the next two years, China will establish itself as the most influential external power in Afghanistan. Dr. Seth Jones, Senior Vice President, Harold Brown Chair, and Director of the International Security Program at CSIS, argued that within the next two years, China will not establish itself as the most influential external power in Afghanistan.
This event was made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.