Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 20th, 2019

China as the all-weather Friend of Afghanistan

Today marks the 64th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Afghanistan. These two countries, have maintained an exemplary friendship during this period, no matter how the international situation and our respective domestic affairs have changed. China as a big country has consistently enjoyed positive relations with its Afghan neighbor. Even, after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, China became one of the first nations to establish official relations with President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan Transitional Authority, reopening its embassy in Kabul in February 2002 and almost immediately provided about $5 million in emergency humanitarian aid. 
This is one of the examples showing the goodwill of China to Afghanistan and it was followed by additional promises of reconstruction aid, as well as steadfast diplomatic support, including China’s participation in the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighborly Relations, and supports its peace process with the Taliban and reconstruction efforts. China and Afghanistan subsequently signed multiple bilateral agreements to advance overall relations and facilitate closer and deeper economic and technical cooperation.
Although China has not sent military troops to Afghanistan, it has provided different trainings for Afghan police and mine-clearing teams. Further, China has provided training opportunities for different Afghan institutions both in Afghanistan and China and has provided scholarships for thousands of Afghan students to study in China. 
According to economic scholars, the “discovery” of mineral wealth in Afghanistan can bind more tightly the interests of Beijing and Kabul. 
China’s Potential Contributions
Given the troubles in Aynak, China’s Afghan investments, no one expects efforts to lock down mineral resources at the direct expense of China, but as risky but welcome down payments on the future stability of Afghanistan. Indeed, China enjoys a unique position to contribute to the peace and security of the war-torn nation.
To this end, China has concentrated on investments and cultural exchanges, like the opening Confucius Institute at Kabul University, the Aynak project BRI and other major initiatives. If these projects succeed, they will provide local jobs and help put the Afghan economy on surer footing—something that all parties, would like to see. 
China is helping peace efforts to stabilize the country that enables Afghanistan to attract investment opportunities. Projects like Aynak, BRI, and TAPI have the potentials to generate continuing growth, create jobs, and stimulate other sectors of the economy through contract work. And as the world’s single largest user of copper, iron, and almost all other metals, China is one of the most important drivers of the global mining industry. Coupled with its ambitious plans to build extensive transport and energy links with Central Asia, China, along with neighbors like India, is a natural export destination for Afghanistan’s minerals. This has far greater economic implications than one-time foreign aid to build roads, for example. China constantly has been helping fill Afghanistan’s economic void.  
More can clearly be done to harness the potential of Chinese investment to improve the Afghan economy but, at the same time, it is important to maintain a realistic sense of the limits of the endeavor. No country can simply inject money into the right projects and fix the Afghan government, which Transparency International ranked as the fourth most corrupt in the world. Further, we should remind that Chinese investment is not a panacea; it provides just one of the many pieces needed to rebuild the Afghan economy.
Development experts have estimated that Afghanistan will need at least six to eight successful Aynak-sized investments before its economy is on the right track for the long term. Still, Chinese investment gives Afghanistan a realistic chance to begin what will inevitably be a long and arduous process of reconstruction. The outcome for Afghanistan could prove disastrous if they fail. Despite concerns to the contrary, it is in the regional and international players’ interest if projects like Aynak, BRI and TAPI succeed.
China as an all-weather friend of Afghanistan has proven that it always stands with the Afghan people; based on this principle, China has been supporting Afghan peace process, different economic projects that benefit Afghanistan including TAPI, BRI, Aynak and have been providing different educational and training opportunities, to ensure sustainable peace and security and helping fill Afghanistan’s economic void as well. Thus, the 64th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Afghanistan is a good opportunity to remind that countries regardless of the size and power can live in peace and harmony, and count on each other’s support in all conditions.