In the U.S. departure from Afghanistan, China has seen the realization of long-held hopes for a reduction of the influence of a geopolitical rival in what it considers its backyard. Yet, it is also deeply concerned that the very withdrawal could bring risk and instability to that backyard.
The Taliban’s takeover could certainly present political and economic opportunities for China, including developing Afghanistan’s vast mineral riches. But stability will be required to reap most of those benefits, and the immediate result of the American withdrawal has been more instability, not less.
While “hawkish” Chinese state media have portrayed events in Afghanistan as a win for Beijing and loss for Washington, that reflects “a false sense of confidence.”