China/Central Asia/Afghanistan – Expanding China’s Central Asia Playbook to Afghanistan (The Jamestown Foundation)

Niva Yau

For almost 30 years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has deployed various strategies to increase its economic and political influence in Central Asia. In 1994, then-Premier Li Peng suggested a plan to develop economic connectivity and “revive the old Silk Road” (Xinhua, December 25, 2013). This paved the way for a China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline which became operational in 2005 and was followed in 2009 by a China-Central Asia gas pipeline reaching Turkmenistan. With these pipelines, China has gradually undermined Central Asia’s energy export reliance on Russia (a legacy of the Soviet Union). In addition, China-Europe cargo rail lines via Kazakhstan offer Central Asian economies the quickest access to sea-based trade through Chinese territories and have played a significant role in growing trade linkages between China and the region. State-owned Chinese companies have repaired and modernized a number of decaying Soviet infrastructure projects throughout Central Asia and helped to transfer some industrial capacity crucial to individual economies, such as aluminum processing and renewable energy. China is likely to deploy the same investment-driven playbook used in Central Asia under the pretext of post-war reconstruction in the Taliban’s  re-established Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after advances in Kabul on the eve of August 15 (AP, August 15).

Expanding China’s Central Asia Playbook to Afghanistan – Jamestown