What does Beijing want in Afghanistan?
Since the Taliban’s August takeover of the country, Beijing’s attention has increasingly turned toward Afghanistan and its neighbors in Central and South Asia.
The situation is not just a foreign policy conundrum for China -- which has a 76-kilometer border with Afghanistan -- but it's also linked to Beijing’s domestic concerns, particularly fears of terrorism in its western Xinjiang province. Chinese policymakers hope that the region can act as a buffer against extremism spreading to Xinjiang -- where the Chinese government has imprisoned more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities in internment camps.
Motivated by these fears and more, China has set up a secret military outpost in Tajikistan along the Afghan border -- which was the subject of a recent report by RFE/RL -- where Beijing has increasingly turned its attention to counterterrorism.
As things continue to change quickly in Afghanistan, China is now left navigating a complicated relationship with the Taliban and adapting to a new reality across Central Asia.
Unpacking all this and more was the subject of a live Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by RFE/RL on October 21 with Sirojiddin Tolibov, managing editor at Radio Free Europe’s Tajik Service; Niva Yau, a Bishkek-based researcher from the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the OSCE academy; and Raffaello Pantucci, a senior associate fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute.
The talk was hosted by RFE/RL's China correspondent, Reid Standish.