Balance of Power: China Extends Its Reach


Afghanistan has long been known as the “Graveyard of Empires.”

Conquerors like the Persians, Mongols, Brits and Russians all packed up and left — just as the U.S. has tried to do. Next in line to try its luck may be China.

President Xi Jinping is spending more than $50 billion in an economic corridor in Pakistan, Afghanistan’s neighbor. The highways and gas pipelines, designed to provide China an alternative land route to the high seas, also give it an interest in stabilizing the volatile region.

China’s money is a boon for Pakistan, allowing its leaders to ignore President Donald Trump’s pressure to get tougher on militant groups that operate on its porous border with Afghanistan. In a defiant statement rebuffing Trump, Pakistan’s foreign ministry cited China’s praise of its counterterrorism efforts.

But China isn’t just a rival power source to America — its rising influence in the region can help Washington too. The U.S. and China have already joined together to try and start peace talks with the Taliban.

While China has traditionally avoided the Great Game, its broadening array of foreign investments is making it a player. Afghanistan is a perilous place to start.

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