Jan. 1, 2014
Strategic Implications of the Afghan Mother Lode and China's Emerging Role
China has the technology, know-how, and capital to exploit Afghanistan's mineral resources and capitalize on its location, which could make it a transportation hub; concurrently, Beijing sees the risks of dealing with a country with corruption at all levels and with the further problems of primitive infrastructure, low education and expertise levels, potentially hostile neighbors, scarcity of water, and forbidding terrain. Afghan analysts themselves see the need to build economic and social stability as trumping other security and military needs. Meantime, U.S. and NATO forces are spending trillions to prepare Afghanistan for China and other countries to reap the benefits. This outcome, while controversial, may be the easiest way for Kabul to rise above its disorder and poverty.