July 28, 2021

THE GREAT GAME: China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance. “China is quietly attempting to secure its interests in post-U.S. Afghanistan. Beijing has reportedly been actively engaging with Kabul on construction of the Peshawar-Kabul motorway, which would connect Pakistan to Afghanistan and make Kabul a participant in China’s massive infrastructure and investment plan, the Belt and Road Initiative. Up until now, Kabul has resisted participation in the initiative to avoid getting on the wrong side of Washington. Beijing is also building a major road through the Wakhan Corridor—a slim strip of mountainous territory connecting China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang to Afghanistan—and onward to Pakistan and Central Asia, complementing its existing road network through the region. Once completed, these new thoroughfares should enable Beijing to pursue its goals of increased trade with the region and natural resource extraction in Afghanistan. According to a 2014 report, Afghanistan may possess nearly a trillion dollars’ worth of extractable rare-earth metals locked within its mountains.”

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