The US’ welcome of China on Afghan peace process headed for win-win results

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By Andrew Korybko

“We welcome the positive role of Russia, China, and any other
country in the Afghan peace process”, a U.S. State Department official said on
Friday, an unexpected announcement considering the increased trade tensions
between the U.S. and China after Washington’s unilateral imposition of hundreds
of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on Chinese imports.

Some might be struggling to make sense of why President
Donald Trump would condemn China on trade while one of his diplomats praised it
for its role in the Afghan peace process that very same week, but this just
proves that pragmatic cooperation between the two countries is still possible
in areas of shared interest despite disagreements elsewhere and that the
official’s words should therefore be interpreted as sincere. China has been
participating in the Afghan peace process for quite a few years already, but
the latest round has been the most successful thus far. Out of all the main
parties taking part in this process, China is the only one that’s totally
neutral because it doesn’t have a history of military-political involvement in
the country.

This uniquely positions China to mediate between all the
relevant players and contribute to shaping a constructive long-term outcome for
sustaining peace in the conflict-torn country if an agreement is ever reached
between the warring sides. Only China has the capability to rebuild
Afghanistan, and it can put its experience with the China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor to use in constructing much-needed roads, railways, schools,
hospitals, and power plants there once the war ends.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the root causes of terrorism
can be traced back to economic factors that somehow or another contributed to
an individual’s radicalization, so rectifying socio-economic disparities by
bringing fair and even development to Afghanistan’s people should in theory reduce
terrorism in the long run.

Providing jobs and respectable livelihoods to its citizens
can give them opportunities that they’ve never had before, improving their
lives and therefore making all of them stakeholders in enthusiastically
upholding whatever peace might eventually be reached. This in turn could
strengthen national reconciliation by creating a community of shared destiny
within the country prior to incorporating this national community into the
wider one presently being formed along the Silk Roads.

Although the current American administration generally views
relations with China as a zero-sum game, it seems that Afghanistan might be a
notable exception to this pattern, suggesting that the U.S. might be more
flexible on its stance when it concerns security-related issues (and especially
those dealing with terrorism) than economic ones. There’s a certain logic to
this observation because President Trump is a successful businessman who earned
his fortune in the hyper-competitive market of New York real estate, which
naturally inclines him to see economic issues through a zero-sum prism. His
military, however, has learned the hard way that anti-terrorist and
nation-building campaigns must embrace win-win principles if they’re ever to be
successful.

Keeping these concepts in mind, it makes sense why the State
Department official welcomed the positive role that China is playing in the
Afghan peace process in spite of the prevailing trade tensions between the two
countries. The U.S. seemingly understands the need for multilateral win-win
cooperation in bringing peace to Afghanistan, but also more importantly in
sustaining whatever deal might be reached seeing as how only China is capable
of funding the war-torn country’s reconstruction and development projects.

Integrating the strategically positioned state into the Belt
and Road Initiative would go a long way towards ensuring that its people have a
bright future and are less vulnerable to the pernicious sway of terrorist
propaganda, which therefore serves the entire world’s interests and is
understandably worthy of universal praise.

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