China-US cooperation in Afghanistan depends on US' China policy: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 17, 2021 09:02 PM
China-US Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden spoke about the current situation in Afghanistan. He claimed that he stands squarely behind his decision of the US exit from Afghanistan, noting that the US mission in Afghanistan "was never supposed to be about nation-building." Instead, it was about "preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland" all this time. "American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," said Biden.

Biden has been heavily criticized in the US because of the sudden collapse of the Afghan government and the hasty withdrawal of US troops. Even if there is a common view that transcends party affiliations in the US about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the way the Biden administration carried out this plan is a total disaster that has tragically ruined the US' image and reputation. Some people said that it is unconvincing and hypocritical of Washington to harangue others about human rights while it abandons many Afghans that have helped the US troops and puts them in danger.

For the sake of counter-terrorism, the US destroyed the Afghan government and caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. Yet, Biden said that the US military presence was only to fight terrorism, not build the country. This is bitterly disappointing. It makes people believe that today's world is facing a fundamental misfortune: The strongest country in the world is good at destruction, but not interested in reconstruction.

A US soldier (center) points his gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul airport on Monday as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country. Photo: AFP

A US soldier (center) points his gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul airport on Monday as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country. Photo: AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke to foreign ministers of countries like China, Russia and India. When speaking with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Blinken said he hopes that China will play an important role in Afghanistan's orderly transfer of power and establishing an inclusive government. To put it bluntly, he came to ask China for help.

As of press time, the US has not yet completed its evacuation of all US and its allies' personnel. Earlier on Monday, the US military contacted the Taliban leaders, asking the latter not to interfere with the US evacuation from Afghanistan at Kabul airport. The US is exhausted in Afghanistan, and has to show such a low profile to its former enemy in order to retreat safely. Washington does need other major powers, such as China and Russia, to help it "clean up" the mess in Afghanistan it left behind, and make its leaving less ugly.

China doesn't take advantage of other's perilous state but hopes that Afghanistan can realize a peaceful transition and end chaos for good. Putting an end to battles as soon as possible is clearly conducive for the vision to bring all Afghan people to a better life. In his conversation with Blinken, Wang Yi opposed the US move that it engages in deliberate all-around suppression of China to harm China's interests but asks China to cooperate with it. It is very necessary at this moment to directly point out that the US is a strategic rogue. 

China will be keen to restore order in Afghanistan and promote reconstruction of this war-torn country, but it has no obligation to help the US get out of a strategic dilemma that entirely belongs to Washington. When the US is maliciously carrying out strategic coercion and containment against China, there is no need for China to win US favor by rendering good for evil. That will not work.

The US has announced, "Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be." In other words, Washington has limited cooperation with China within the sphere where the US can unilaterally benefit. China will never accept such logic. Cooperation must be mutually beneficial. If it is more favorable to the US, Beijing will have to make Washington concede in some other area as reciprocity.

The US is retreating from the Greater Middle East while strengthening its strategic structure around China with the sole purpose of containing China. How can China give the US a hand to suppress China? It is anticipated that the US will be in more trouble in the Middle East. But whether China will cooperate with the US in the region, and whether Beijing will collaborate with Washington in the spheres where the latter needs the help of China, depends on how the US will act around China. This is just and fair.