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China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co inked an agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan to extract oil.
According to a proclamation from the Taliban regime, the Taliban and a Chinese company have made a deal to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin in Northern Afghanistan. This is the first significant international energy extraction agreement that the Taliban have penned since assuming power in 2021. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, and Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu were both at the contract signing in Kabul. Baradar commented that this contract was in Afghanistan’s best interests and would help to strengthen its financial situation.
The contract provides up to $150 million of investments annually and will increase to $540 million in three years. It was also stated that the project would directly produce job opportunities for 3,000 Afghans.
Though no country has recognized the Taliban, China has put substantial resources into the region. However, as international contributions to the country have been mostly frozen since the Taliban’s return to power, Afghanistan is in need of economic betterment. In addition, the Taliban have recently been condemned for marginalizing women and minorities, such as their prohibition of female NGO workers and suspension of university education for female students.
Taliban-China Build Closer Ties
The Taliban has pledged to ensure the security of Chinese citizens in Afghanistan following a violent attack on a Kabul hotel by the Islamic State. Last Dec. 13, armed men sprayed bullets at the Longan Hotel in Kabul, gravely wounding five Chinese nationals.
On Wednesday, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen declared that the regime has a “duty” to guarantee the safety of Chinese individuals in Afghanistan following an assault by the Islamic State affiliate on a Kabul inn that frequently houses Chinese entrepreneurs.
The Taliban has then declared that they conducted raids that targeted individuals responsible for the assault on the Chinese hotel in Kabul. They are believed to be members of the Islamic State.
The MCIA released a December report that Isis-K is the most alarming threat to the Taliban’s control over Afghanistan and the most influential hindrance to its campaign for international acceptance and legitimacy.
The Islamic State Khorasan, a branch of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, accepted responsibility for the assault. The group, which became notable in late 2014, aims to increase the Islamic State “caliphate” to South and Central Asia, as per the Midstone Centre for International Affairs, an autonomous strategy research and advocacy institute. In a December report, the MCIA expressed that the Islamic State Khorasan is the “most serious operational challenge” to Taliban guidelines in Afghanistan and is the “most significant” element damaging its endeavor for international recognition and validity.
Shaheen conveyed, through WhatsApp, that the government had an “obligation” to safeguard Chinese nationals in the nation for investment, business, or tourism.
In 2021, Afghanistan was placed fourth on the list of nations that experienced the most attacks by Isis. Most of these assaults targeted the Taliban, according to open-source intelligence agency Jihad Analytics.
Analysts claimed that the attack of Isis-K on Chinese citizens was part of an effort to weaken the Taliban administration. Faran Jeffery, who is the Deputy Director and Head of the South Asia Terrorism Desk of the Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism based in the UK, commented that “[Isis-K] has constantly endeavored to harm the Taliban’s relationship with nations like China, Pakistan, Russia…in its propaganda.”
It has also, every so often, threatened to launch strikes on the interests of these countries in Afghanistan at any given opportunity.
The US estimated in 2010 that Afghanistan had an estimated value of US$1 trillion in unexploited minerals, while the Afghan government said they were worth three times as much.
These untouched mineral deposits include substantial amounts of lithium, rare earth, and copper – materials that are essential for the worldwide green-energy revolution. As a result, according to Shaheen, Chinese entrepreneurs have been eyeing the country for mining and infrastructure projects.
Chinese firms have now acquired the right to dig copper at Mes Aynak in Logar province, which is around 40km (25 miles) southeast of Kabul. This area is home to one of the most massive copper deposits in the world. The unexplored minerals of Afghanistan are essential for its success and growth, but inadequate infrastructure, human resources, and security issues have hindered attempts to extract and benefit from the reserves.
In July 2021, a month prior to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a high-level Taliban delegation visited the northern Chinese city of Tianjin for a meeting with then-foreign minister Wang Yi. In April 2022, Beijing approved the Taliban in Afghanistan, citing that recognizing the group as the country’s legitimate government would come “when conditions are ripe.”
In return for its support, Beijing is expecting the Taliban to take action against the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which they have claimed to be encouraging Uygur independence in Xinjiang. The militant group has a substantial presence in the Badakhshan province on the border of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Faryab, Kabul, and Nuristan provinces. In addition, ETIM established training camps in Afghanistan during the late 1990s when they fled Chinese suppression in Xinjiang.
The Taliban stressed the importance of China’s connection with Afghanistan and accepted Chinese investment and understanding in helping to reconstruct the country. Shaheen commented that they have been reconstructing Afghanistan from the beginning, so they welcome investment that benefits investors and Afghan people. He added that China and Afghanistan have been peacefully coexisting for centuries and would like to gain some of China’s knowledge in developments that can be implemented in Afghanistan. Additionally, it was mentioned that the two countries are attempting to make their nations peaceful and affluent.
The Chinese are the biggest group of foreign investors in Afghanistan. In 2022, there were over 100 foreign companies registered in the country, contrasted with around 30 per year formerly, as reported by Reuters, drawing from the Afghanistan commerce ministry. Last month, Reuters reported a statement from Chinese entrepreneur Yu Minghui mentioning that 500 Chinese investors have entered Afghanistan to investigate business opportunities since the Taliban regained control in 2021, though only a few have committed to investment.
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