‘Would Allow China to Have Direct Oil Access’: Antonio Graceffo on Beijing’s Interest in Afghanistan

In this episode, we sat down with China economic analyst Dr. Antonio Graceffo. He touched on Beijing’s interest in Afghanistan, what some of those risks are, and how Beijing’s plan of global dominance through the Belt and Road initiative is playing out.

Graceffo said, “Main involvement of China with Afghanistan is to protect its investments that it has in Pakistan, because Pakistan or CPEC, which is the Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor, is the jewel of the Belt and Road. It’s kind of the most important point of the Belt and Road because it would allow China to have direct access to the oil from the Middle East, bypassing the sea, bypassing the United States Navy. They [would] be able to go overland through Pakistan. And the projects in Pakistan have been subjected to terrorist attacks repeatedly. Often these terrorist attacks are by the Pakistan Taliban or the Afghanistan Taliban, which are in Pakistan. And so one of the main issues is that Beijing wants to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan to get them to agree not to attack Chinese interest in Pakistan. The other one is that they want to get an agreement from the Taliban in Afghanistan that they will not support Uyghur independence movements, or terrorism in Xinjiang, inside of China. ”

As to the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the Taliban, Graceffo said, “That’s the issue with things like sanctions and boycotts of countries. I just did a piece on Venezuela recently as well. I mean, it’s just a really similar situation. You have these bad actors, you have Venezuela, North Korea, you have Afghanistan. And obviously, the West brings sanctions against them, particularly the United States. And it makes sense to do that. On the one hand, it then isolates them, and then China becomes the friend in time of need. And that’s the person you remember. You remember the person who helped you and everybody else rejected you. And so China steps into a place like Afghanistan and offers them money, offers [them] friendship, in this case, offers some legitimacy.”

He added, “In fact, in July, they held high, high-level talks with Taliban representatives in Beijing, which suggests to me that they will probably officially recognize the Taliban, or may not officially recognize them because, in doing so, there will be legitimizing claims that the Taliban is not legitimate. So they may just conduct business as usual with them with no need to say that they’re legitimate. But either way, the Taliban needs legitimacy. They need friends, they need money. And of course, Beijing is willing to provide money. Now to protect the CPEC investments, China would do almost anything. The rare earth minerals are one of the most valuable resources in the region. Very important for China’s continued operation and for their continued success economically is energy oil, which of course, is the main commodity that would be passing through Pakistan on CPEC. So that’s more the immediate need. A long-term investment, which as we know, Beijing takes often very long-term planning, would be the rare earth minerals, and then you’re going to trillions of dollars.”

Watch the full episode on EpochTV.

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