China tries to draw Afghanistan into its orbit

China’s ancient Silk Road

China’s modern Silk Road

The U.S. government for 15 years has been trying to pacify Afghanistan, without success.

During these same 15 years, the Chinese government has been extending its power and influence into the interior of Asia by investing in railroads, oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure across the region at the invitation of local governments..

The Chinese call this the “Belts and Roads Initiative”—the belts being the oil and gas pipelines. Others call it the New Silk Road.

Recently China made an agreement with Pakistan to create an economic development corridor, culminating in a port giving China direct access to the Indian Ocean near the Persian Gulf.   Now China and Pakistan are trying to draw Afghanistan into their economic alliance.

I don’t know how all this will turn out.  Many things can go wrong.

But it seems clear that Beijing has been more effective in extending its power by offering material benefits than Washington has by means of military intervention and economic sanctions.

Furthermore China’s policies have made it economically stronger while U.S. policies have depleted U.S. strength.

One of Beijing’s goals is to draw Russia and Iran, as well as the Central Asian countries, into its economic orbit as suppliers of energy and natural resources for Chinese industry.   U.S. economic sanctions against Russia and Iran give the leaders of these countries little choice but to turn to China.


In 2002, I thought the invasion of Afghanistan was a good idea because, unlike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the Afghan government gave sanctuary to terrorists who had attacked the United States.  With hindsight, I see that the invasion was a bad idea, for reasons given by Scott V. Horton in the article linked below.   We should have treated terrorism as a police problem, not a military problem.


China Brings Afghanistan and Pakistan Together to Discuss Regional Issues, But Divergences Remain by Harsh V. Pant for The Diplomat.

China, Pakistan to look at including Afghanistan in $57 billion economic corridor by Ben Blanchard for Reuters.

China Steps Up to Broker Peace in Afghan-Pakistan Conflict by Keith Zai for Bloomberg News.

War Without a Rationale by Scott V. Horton for The American Conservative.

The Afghan war: Trump and Putin battle for Uzbek support by M.K, Shadrakumar for Asia Times.

Fear and loathing on the Afghan Silk Road by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

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