A Trillion Reasons Why China Likes the Taliban
By Daniel Ten Kate
August 25, 2021, 5:59 PM GMT+8
As the U.S. and its allies rush to evacuate Afghanistan, China is setting its sights on the country’s vast mineral wealth.
Since the fall of Kabul this month, Chinese analysts and state-run media have touted the potential to develop untapped reserves worth more than an estimated $1 trillion.
Smartphones and electric vehicles have created new demand for Afghanistan’s rare earths and lithium. China, which has invested $60 billion in neighboring Pakistan, is well positioned to dig them up and transport them to its factories.
Yet as Iain Marlow and Enda Curran explain, this will be hard to pull off in reality. Four decades of war, including with the Soviet Union and later the U.S., stopped it from happening — and there’s little sign that will change.
China clearly sees engagement and development as the best way to ensure stability. And if all goes right, it could secure a massive supply of raw materials for high-tech goods in the process. — Daniel Ten Kate