A very nice article by the German state-owned news agency Deutsche Welle, about China’s role in Afghanistan. According to Deutsche Welle China did not attack the Taliban in Afghanistan on the side of the United States, but she has made great efforts in order for a truce to be reached between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The main reason China is interested in Afghanistan is because she does not want ISIS to get a foothold in Afghanistan, because that would allow ISIS to support the separatists Uyghurs in China’s XinJiang province. As you can see at the following map China and Afghanistan have common borders. Actually the borders of the other Central Asian countries with China are not very secure, and ISIS could also use these countries to enter China.
Map 1 China-Afghanistan
Also note that the Sunni Islamist organization East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is operating in XinJiang, and it is mainly supported by Turkey. As you can read at the following BBC article there is tension between Turkey and China over the very large Muslim population of XinJiang. See “China-Turkey relationship strained over Uyghurs”, July 2015.
I have already said that what Turkey really wants is that China heavily invests in Turkey, so that in return Turkey will use her influence over the Uyghurs and ETIM to keep the XinJiang province calm. According to Deutsche Welle many Uyghurs use fake Turkish passports to enter Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to receive military training in the Islamic military camps that operate in these countries, and which are mainly funded with Saudi money according to Deutsche Welle.
I have many times referred to the Arab and Iranian effort to block the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Pipeline, promoted by Turkmenistan and India and supported by the United States. TAPI is for Central Asia what the Trans-Saharan Pipeline is for North Africa, and what the Qatar-Turkey and the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipelines are for the Middle East.
Map 2 TAPI
Deutsche Welle also mentions that the Uyghours believe that China is undermine their religion and culture, and that she also exploits their natural resources. As you can see at the following Wikipedia map XinJiang is among the richest, if not the richest in oil region of China.
Map 3 China’s Oil Reserves
The article also mentions that China is promoting peace in Afghanistan due to the 46 billion dollar agreements she has signed with Pakistan for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but also due to the 10 billion dollar agreement between China and the Afghan government for the extraction of Afghan copper, which has not materialized until now due to security concerns.
I must also say that Xin Jiang is very important for China because she borders 8 countries, as you can see at the following Britannica map. Since the ancient years and the ancient Silk Roads XinJiang was very important for China, because underneath XinJiang lie the inaccessible and hostile Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, which are the natural borders between China and India.
Map 4 XinJiang
Map 5 Himalayas-Tibet
Map 6 Tibet-XinJiang
At the southern part of XinJiang lies the Taklamakan Desert. At the following map I have marked with red the Tibetan Plateau and with black the Taklamakan Desert.
Map 6 Tibet-Taklamakan Desert
At the following Wikipedia map you can see the ancient Silk Roads, and as you can see they pass above the Himalayas and Tibet. The Silk Roads were passing both underneath and above the Taklamakan Desert.
Map 7 Ancient Silk Roads
Map 8 Taklamakan Desert
For the Deutsche Welle article see:
“What does China want from the Afghan peace process”?, January 2016
8th, 9th Paragraph
Siegfried O. Wolf, director of research at the Brussels-based South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), said the claims by some Chinese sources that Uighur militants use fake Turkish passports to enter Afghanistan and Pakistan to join extremist groups makes Beijing increasingly concerned about the long war in Afghanistan.
“In the Afghan and Pakistani camps, which are heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, Uighurs receive ideological indoctrination as well as military training,” said the analyst.
China has also signed multibillion dollar deals with Afghanistan, some of which involve the extraction of copper from the Mes Aynak mine in Logar Province – believed to be worth $10 billion. State-owned company China Metallurgical Group Corporation acquired the extraction rights of the mine in 2007 for $3.5 billion (2.6 billion euros), but the project has never actually kicked off given the deteriorating security situation and poor infrastructure in Afghanistan.