International Relations | 24.03.2010
China pledges more aid to Afghanistan
Three agreements on trade and economic co-operation were signed in the presence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on Wednesday. One was for more economic aid to war-torn Afghanistan.
China, which has no troops in Afghanistan, has already given aid worth 130 million euros to Afghanistan since 2002. The money has mainly been used for reconstruction projects. President Karzai, who is travelling with some 20 business executives, is keen for China to invest even more.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: In 2004, 11 Chinese road workers were killed in Afganistan and four were injured
"Afghanistan’s attempts to boost ties with neighboring countries in areas such as business will be good for security and peace. More importantly, China is only interested in Afghanistan from an economics point of view, not political," said Saifuddin Saihoon, an economics expert in Kabul.
Karzai thanks China for support and aid
The Chinese state media reported during the closed-door talks in Beijing that the Afghan president had thanked China for its support and aid and said that it had a very important role to play for stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Hu Jintao, for his part, said China wanted to "advance practical cooperation" with Afghanistan and "lift the two countries' comprehensive partnership to new levels."
In part, this "comprehensive partnership" involves China tapping into Afghanistan’s vast natural resources.
"China will increasingly buy natural and mineral resources from Afghanistan," explained Niklas Swanstroem from the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program in Stockholm. "The problem is that Afghanistan doesn’t have the infrastructure to transport them to China. A practical measure would be to improve infrastructure in Afghanistan."
In 2008, a group of Chinese firms won a contract to develop the vast Aynak copper mine south of Kabul. The mine is expected to start production in three or four years, although violence in the country has hampered progress.
Fighting terrorism and organized cross-border crime
In the Beijing talks on Wednesday, the two sides agreed to cooperate more in combating terrorism in the region and tackling organized cross-border crime.
China thinks a stable Afghanistan could help curb the threat of violence in its far-western region of Xinjiang.
There has also been speculation that Karzai, who is trying to garner international support for his attempts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, also wants China to put pressure on Pakistan – Beijing’s key ally – to help Afghanistan in these efforts. However, experts doubt that China will do this.
"They are afraid of having problems with the US and the West," Niklas Swanstroem pointed out. "Moreover, once China engages in the security of other countries, it will create a sort of fear that it is intervening in the internal affairs of other states and China doesn’t want to do this."
President Karzai is due to meet Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday. He is also scheduled to hold a speech at Beijing University later this week.
Author: Disha Uppal
Editor: Anne Thomas