Premier Li says that China will help support Afghanistan’s peaceful development and economic rebuilding.
China and the United States jointly held a conference on the rebuilding and development of Afghanistan on Sept. 26 during the United Nations General Assembly. Participants pledged active multilateral cooperation to aid the war-torn country. China and the U.S. agreed to expand their current cooperation mechanism, a four-year-old training camp for Afghan diplomats, so as to cover the agricultural and medical sectors.
Advancing cooperation on Afghanistan is among the major achievements of Chinese President Xi Jinping's latest U.S. visit. It is a pivotal point for Beijing and Washington to shape an interactive trust-based cooperative relationship. However, that is easier said than done, for any concrete success, one transcending mere diplomatic ceremony, will take huge efforts from both countries.
First, the two countries should enhance basic mutual trust, improve their risk management capabilities, and set up a standardized communications mechanism. Neither Xi nor Obama wanted to countenance China as a rising power that will inevitably clash with the United States, which is currently a long-established power.
Realistically, practical interests and mistrust have caused frequent friction in China-U.S. bilateral ties. Therefore, the achievement of a consensus on Afghanistan issues seemed too precious to lose for both governments. On Asia-Pacific issues, China and the United States need to trust each other and move in a more synchronized way with the knowledge that bilateral cooperation does not mean China replacing the United States in regional dominance.
Second, China and the United States should encourage and facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Any talks concerning the future of Afghanistan should be conducted by the Afghan people.
In October, while visiting Beijing, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani asked China to engage in its peace process and play a bigger role in ensuring the country's prosperity and stability.
Unlike the United States, China and the Taliban do not hold any deep grudges against each other, which offers China the opportunity, based on U.S. understanding, to mediate between different political forces in Afghanistan, urging them to engage in dialogue and cooperation.
Reconciliation is in the interest of the White House because only on this way can Obama fulfill his promise to withdraw all the 180,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before his presidency ends.
Third, China and the United States should invite Afghanistan's neighbors, including Pakistan and India, to all the discussions on the country's future, because a peaceful and affluent Afghanistan is in the interest of all countries in the region. China and the United States have enough influence over these countries to bring them back to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Although Afghanistan no longer claims the headlines, its critical geopolitical position still matters for world stability and development. Also apparent is the importance of the China-U.S. cooperation in solving this regional difficulty; it is possible to reinstate peace in this war-torn country, apart from being a touchstone for whether China and the United States are capable of shaping what is known as the new-type of relations between major countries.
President Xi's U.S. visit removed some of Washington's anxiety. Maintaining communication and cooperation on Afghanistan was among the 49 items of major consensus. Properly dealing with Afghanistan issues and the peace process will help accumulate trust and political wisdom, which will in turn promote the China-U.S. cooperation in providing more solutions to the complicated issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
The writer is an associate professor at Communication University of China and a research fellow with the Charhar Institute.
The article was translated by Chen Boyuan. Its original and unabridged version was published in Chinese.
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