According to the Taliban, China reportedly wants to “beef up” relations with the extremist group in Afghanistan.
The Guardian reported on Friday, “China has promised to keep its embassy in Kabul open and ‘beef up’ relations, the Taliban have said … A spokesman for the Islamist militia, Suhail Shaheen, said on Friday a senior member of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar had been told by China’s deputy foreign minister that Beijing also aimed to increase humanitarian assistance.”
Foreign Policy noted in July:
Beijing has reportedly been actively engaging with Kabul on construction of the Peshawar-Kabul motorway, which would connect Pakistan to Afghanistan and make Kabul a participant in China’s massive infrastructure and investment plan, the Belt and Road Initiative. … Beijing is also building a major road through the Wakhan Corridor—a slim strip of mountainous territory connecting China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang to Afghanistan—and onward to Pakistan and Central Asia … According to a 2014 report, Afghanistan may possess nearly a trillion dollars’ worth of extractable rare-earth metals locked within its mountains.
Reuters explained the threat of China cornering the market on rare earth minerals in June 2019:
Rare earth elements are used in a wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers. … China supplied 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States from 2014 to 2017. … China is home to at least 85% of the world’s capacity to process rare earth ores into material manufacturers can use, according to research firm Adamas Intelligence. … Companies such as Raytheon Co RTN.N, Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N and BAE Systems Plc BAES.L all make sophisticated missiles that use rare earths metals in their guidance systems, and sensors.
CNBC admitted in April that “environmental pressures at home” had been partly responsible for the U.S. losing its prior dominance of the rare earth minerals market:
While China is dominant now, in the decades before the 1980s it was the U.S. that held a majority stake in this metals market. That changed as production growth abroad and mounting environmental pressures at home shifted production overseas and also offered cheaper labor costs. According to one 2018 report from the Department of Defense, China “strategically flooded the global market” with rare earths at cheaper prices to drive out and deter current and future competitors.
In July, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that “China is a friendly country and we welcome it for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan … if [the Chinese] have investments, of course we will ensure their safety.” He deflected from the issue of the oppressed Uyghur Muslims in China, saying, “We care about the oppression of Muslims, be it in Palestine, in Myanmar, or in China, and we care about the oppression of non-Muslims anywhere in the world. But what we are not going to do is interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
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