With Pending Chinese Investment, Afghanistan Endorses Beijing’s Position on South China Sea

On May 16, 2016, the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan issued a statement in support of Beijing‘s stance on the ongoing South China Sea (SCS) dispute with the Philippines.  In a joint meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah endorsed China‘s call for bilateral talks on the contentious maritime issue.

Coincidentally, Beijing has continuously encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Afghanistan‘s $3 trillion mining reserves, which are largely left unexplored due to the lack of financing, skill, infrastructure and security in the domestic sector.  In 2008, state-run China Metallurgical Group announced a $3 billion project to develop a mining town at Mes Aynak that also resulted in the construction of desperately needed infrastructure such as power generators, roads, and railway links.  Currently there are a number of Chinese projects in Afghanistan that are still in their planning stages, including: a railway that would link Afghanistan and China and a 240 MW Baghdra hydropower project being discussed by China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC).

Beijing has been actively seeking endorsements for bilateral talks on the SCS, refusing to participate in multilateral arbitration with the United States, Philippines and other East Asian countries that are challenging its territorial claims and island-building campaign.  Russia has been the most prominent country to come out in support of China‘s efforts towards this end.