GT Voice: US sanctions won’t deter China-Afghanistan cooperation
Published: Aug 23, 2021 08:48 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Even as the US continues its chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan and the situation remains fluid in the country, the most pressing issue for all parties is the rebuilding of the country.

The US is to blame for the current situation in Afghanistan, so it should take responsibility for the reconstruction and development of the war-torn country. But at the same time, Afghanistan's future development should be carried out in accordance with the rules of the United Nations, not rules set unilaterally by the US.

Given the past experience of Washington imposing unilateral sanctions to achieve its selfish geopolitical interests, including sanctions on Iran and Huawei, the possibility that the US will impose unilateral sanctions on other countries can never be ruled out, especially in the case of Afghanistan.

When commenting on the Afghan situation at the White House on Sunday, US President Joe Biden said that he would support sanctions against the Taliban depending on their future conduct.

It's clear that the US is unwilling to give up the influence and economic interests it has invested in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. Therefore, blocking future cooperation between Afghanistan and other countries by adopting unilateral economic sanction measures seems like a highly possible option for the Biden administration to either maintain America's influence or protect their companies' economic interests in the region.

However, Afghanistan's reconstruction cannot be done without international cooperation with other countries and regions such as China, Russia and Europe. Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, also suggested at an emergency meeting of the Security Council on the Afghan situation that China looks forward to the Secretary-General presenting practical and actionable views and recommendation to the Security Council on future UN present in Afghanistan.

China needs to be prepared for the possibility that potential US sanctions against the Taliban could affect Chinese companies operating in the country. Some Western media outlets have already been busy zeroing in on China's economic interests in Afghanistan, and it is true that Chinese companies are engaged in several oil field, copper mine and infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. While many of these projects have been stalled or moved ahead slowly due to the political turmoil, it is believed that these projects, which will boost the local economy, will resume operations once order is restored and the reconstruction begins.

In any event, Afghanistan and China have the right to develop a bilateral relationship and carry out economic and trade cooperation in accordance with their own national interests, which is reasonable and lawful.

Chinese companies are also open to cooperation with American companies in Afghanistan to promote peaceful reconstruction. But if the US wants to resort to its usual playbook and use sanctions to deter such cooperation, then China's anti- foreign sanctions law will most likely come into play. Under the new Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, China will not hesitate to deploy necessary legal tools to fight against foreign unilateral sanctions and interference to protect Chinese companies' legitimate rights and interests.