Afghan chaos left by US should be a warning to Taiwan: Chinese media
- ‘Ignoble’ pull-out hurts US credibility and would make allies doubt its commitment, observers say, as Chinese media sees proof of decaying US hegemony
- Wavering faith among regional partners could make the US ramp up efforts to counter China, caution analysts
“The shock of the US abandonment of the Kabul regime has been felt more strongly in some parts of Asia, particularly in Taiwan,” it said in an editorial on Monday. “Taiwan is undoubtedly the Asian region that relies most heavily on the US for protection.”
Helicopters fly over Kabul to ferry diplomats after Taliban reaches Afghan capital
The US scrambled helicopters to evacuate embassy staff as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, dealing what many say is a heavy blow to Washington’s global influence and sparking eerie reminiscences of the 1975 fall of Saigon following the Vietnam war.
Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations and director of the Centre on American Studies at the Renmin University of China, said the ignoble end to the US’ 20-year war in Afghanistan could hurt its credibility, particularly in Asia, where doubts over American commitment have lingered since the Donald Trump era.
“The fact that the US has been defeated in a 20-year war by its old enemy, who retook the entire country of Afghanistan at a quicker pace than expected, is quite a powerful shock to the credibility of the US and the position of the Biden administration itself, as it was for the US after 1975.”
At least 7 people killed at Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans try to flee Taliban: US officials
Even for US allies and partners like Japan, Australia and Taiwan, which have been increasingly vocal in their support for Washington’s efforts to counter China, “such a strong shock would inevitably add more question marks [for their leaders] even though they may choose to believe that their strategic importance is bigger,” Shi added.
As foreign nationals and Afghans struggle to flee the country, Beijing has stepped up efforts to underline the narrative that the chaos in Afghanistan is a “turning point in the decline of American hegemony”.
“The fall of Kabul marks the collapse of the US’ international image and credibility,” a Xinhua commentary said on Monday. “It has been proven again that the United States is the world’s largest exporter of unrest and that its hegemonic policy of ‘only me, rather than the world’ has caused too many human tragedies.”
Lu Xiang, a US affairs expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the situation now in Afghanistan could also be “a lesson” to Southeast Asian countries which continue to have faith in the US.
“These countries have experienced the Vietnam war, and they should have a deep understanding about the unreliability of the US,” Lu said. “Afghanistan [has] now offered them a new lesson.”
In his speech in July, Biden said the US needed to withdraw from Afghanistan so that it could “focus on shoring up America’s core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China and other nations that [was] really going to determine … the future”.
Beijing is and should be cautious, “as it remains to be seen whether [the US withdrawal] will benefit China in the longer term”, Shi said.
Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow with the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Haikou, warned of greater challenges for China.
The US could ramp up efforts to counter China on the South China Sea and even the Myanmar issue, Chen noted.
“Also, China’s relations with the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia could face challenges from the US in the spheres of security, diplomacy and economy,” Chen said. “In response, China [should] continue to step up its engagement with Southeast Asian countries.”