OPINION / OBSERVER
China won't play by US playbook in terms of Afghan refugee issue
Published: Sep 03, 2021 11:45 PM
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 August 16 as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country. Photo: AFP



What has been left behind in Afghanistan by the withdrawn US forces? Apparently not a beautiful sight to behold, but a bruised homeland and a surging number of refugees. Now the US is casting its eyes on China, asking Beijing to fix the damage created by Washington. The question on China's attitude of accepting refugees was raised again on Chinese Foreign Ministry's press conference Friday. 

China's stance has been consistent. As Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stressed on the same day: China believes the most pressing issue is to work for a soft-landing of the Afghan situation to avoid any new civil war or humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and prevent any undue casualties or refugees on a large scale. 

In other words, China has its own way of resolving the refugee crisis, which is addressing the fundamental cause of the issue - helping Afghanistan achieve social stability and economic development to prevent more refugees, and even making fleeing Afghans wanting to go home. 

Nevertheless, Western elites and media outlets, especially those from the US, keep picking on China. In late August, the US and 97 other countries issued a joint statement saying they would continue to take in Afghans, and The New York Times stressed that "notably missing from the statement were Russia and China." The case was later echoed and further hyped on social media by some US politicians and scholars.

Unfortunately, what they displayed is far from justice, but exquisite egoism. On the one hand, they have been calculating to make China pay the bill for the rotten legacy the US forged in Afghanistan. On the other, by making a fuss about the case, they hope to put China in an international moral dilemma and then accuse China of "not being responsible."

Who gets to define "responsible?" Could it be the US, the country which destroyed others' homeland, created refugees, and then put up a noble face, pretending to be willing to take them in?   

Take a look at the refugee issue across the globe, apart from those caused by natural disasters. Most of the people in exile are forced to leave their homeland by the hegemonic tactics of Western countries, especially the US, which have been unscrupulously intervening in other countries militarily under the excuse of humanitarianism. 

If China opens its doors for them easily, it would be conniving with the US-led hegemonic intervention, reducing the cost of US wanton invasion worldwide. Such an approach of resolving refugee issues could not be more wrong, Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University, told Global Times. 

The right approach is to start with rebuilding the homes where the refugees fled from. In terms of Afghanistan, the priority should be offering the new government appropriate guidance, coordinating efficient international cooperation on reconstruction in the country, in an attempt to avoid the emergence of new refugees, Shen said. Accepting refugees is never the cure to fix the puzzle once and for all. 

The US is so good at packaging and promoting itself, as if it is still standing on the moral high ground after its epic failure in Afghanistan. 

According to the BBC, the current crisis comes on top of the 2.2 million Afghan refugees already in Afghanistan's neighboring countries and 3.5 million people forced to flee their homes within Afghanistan's borders. On August 27, the UNHCR envisaged a worst-case scenario of 500,000 Afghan refugees arriving in neighboring countries by the end of this year.

Last month, the US government said it will settle a small portion of them, namely 22,000 refugees seeking asylum. Yet even 22,000 may turn out to be just lip service. Only "a total of 485 Afghan refugees have been allowed into the US in 2021," Business Insider reported on August 17. And the US is adopting ultra-rigorous reviews before issuing passports for Afghans. Some netizens joked that those who can finally landed on US soil are not at all refugees, but elites, with high-level IQ, capability and background. 

In Shen's view, the US has only one condition for acceptance toward the Afghan refugees - those with wealth. "It is willing to shelter anyone as long as they have money," Shen noted. The US is not accepting refugees, it is doing "profitable business." 

There is no legal provision in the world that states countries are obliged to resettle refugees in accordance with the requirements of a particular power. Whether to receive them is a matter of the autonomous and independent policy of each country. In only one case that a nation has the absolute obligation to fix the refugee problem - when the mess is created by itself. 

The US wants China to dance to its tune in the refugee issue. Nice try. China has its own methods. It is not obligated to save the disaster generated by the US in Washington's way. The way China deals with other countries will never create refugees. Why would China play by US playbook, when the latter has blown it up and being ridiculously wrong in the first place? 


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