China may send peacekeeping force to Afghanistan after US troops leave, observers say
- Beijing is concerned terrorist groups will prosper if there is a lack of stability in the region, experts say
- US President Joe Biden says all remaining US troops in Afghanistan will pull out by September 11
The withdrawal may pose a threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability, which could spill over into Xinjiang and disrupt China’s counterterrorism efforts.
“The security forces of the Afghan government are not capable of ensuring Afghan security,” said Sun Qi, an international relations specialist at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
“The situation in Afghanistan might go further into chaos in the future. Cross-border crime, drug trafficking and smuggling of firearms may proliferate,” he said.
While Beijing would not station troops in Afghanistan, it might work with other countries in the region to promote political stability and reduce the security risk to China, Sun said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday that foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan should withdraw in a “responsible and orderly manner” to prevent terrorist forces from taking advantage of the chaos.
“The United States is the biggest external factor affecting the Afghan issue. The relevant decisions and actions of the United States should fully respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, earnestly take responsibility for maintaining the results of peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan,” he said.
Other experts said China was unlikely to push too hard to gain influence in Afghanistan as there was already fierce competition in the region.
China and the US were unlikely to engage in any significant cooperation in Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal, given the tensions between the two countries, he said.
“We can see from the withdrawal of US troops that the willingness of the US to intervene in Afghanistan’s affairs is declining,” he said.
“Primarily because the idea of solving local conflicts by establishing a Western-style democracy in Afghanistan has failed.”
Sun said the US was likely to withdraw its military deployments from Central Asia and redeploy them to the Asia-Pacific.
“The withdrawal from Afghanistan allows the US to boost its military presence in Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, with the aim of containing China,” he said.