While the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda here, China is securing raw material for its voracious economy. The worldâ€™s superpower is focused on security. Its fastest rising competitor concentrates on commerce.
skeptics might wonder whether Washington and NATO had conducted â€œan unacknowledged preparatory phase for the Chinese economic penetration of Afghanistan.â€
â€œWe do the heavy lifting,â€ he said. â€œAnd they pick the fruit.â€
…Chinaâ€™s leaders, flush with money and in control of both the government and major industries, meld strategy, business and statecraft into a seamless whole. In a single move, Beijing strengthened its hold on a vital resource, engineered the single largest investment in Afghan history, promised to create thousands of new Afghan jobs and established itself as the Afghan governmentâ€™s pre-eminent business partner and single largest source of tax payments.
An Odd Global Pairing
Afghanistan is not the only place where the United States and China find themselves so oddly juxtaposed in the post-9/11 world. China is investing more in extracting Iraqi oil than American companies are. It has reached long-term arrangements to buy gas from Iran, even as the government there comes under the threat of Western sanctions for its nuclear program. China has also become a dominant investor in Pakistan and volatile parts of Africa.
But it is in Afghanistan where Chinaâ€™s willingness to take risks for commercial and diplomatic gain are most striking.
…American troops do not, in a narrow sense, protect the Chinese. The United States Army stations about 2,000 troops in Logar Province, where Aynak is located. But an Army spokesman said they generally patrolled well south of the mine area and had not provided direct security for Chinese investors or mine workers.
The Afghan National Police, which does protect the mine, was largely built and trained with American money. The 1,500 guards the police have posted in and around Aynak are special recruits not drawn from the main force, according to Maj. Gen. Sayed Kamal, who heads the National Police.
But the conclusion is inescapable: American troops have helped make Afghanistan safe for Chinese investment. And there is no sense that either government objects to that reality…
2010-01-02 23:17:54 UTC