China Opposes U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan: ‘Shirking a Massive Responsibility’

CAMP BOST, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 11: U.S. service members walk off a helicopter on the runway at Camp Bost on September 11, 2017 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. About 300 marines are currently deployed in Helmand Province in a train, advise, and assist role supporting local Afghan security forces. Currently the …
Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

The Global Times, a Chinese government propaganda newspaper, condemned President Joe Biden on Wednesday for announcing he would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in September.

Despite multiple signs from the Biden administration that it is using a fluid definition of “withdrawal,” the Global Times accused the United States of “shirking a massive responsibility” by withdrawing its fewer than 3,000 troops in the country and focusing on civilian engagement.

“Some analysts believe that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is to transfer its attention to superpower rivalries,” the government newspaper claimed, “But its withdrawal is shirking a massive responsibility and could worsen the chaotic security and political situation in Afghanistan, and even foment extreme terrorist forces around the world.”

America, under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, made an agreement with the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to withdraw from the country on May 1, 2021, last year. Biden broke the deal, extending America’s military presence there into September. In his announcement of the extension of the war, however, Biden celebrated his own move as an overdue end to a two-decade-old military engagement that had produced no significant change in the national security threat Afghanistan posed to the United States.

Biden’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, affirmed in Kabul this month that the U.S. would remain heavily involved in rebuilding Afghanistan even after “withdrawing.”

“Even when our troops come home, our partnership with Afghanistan will continue,” Blinken promised.

The head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., suggested at a House of Representatives hearing this week that the troops leaving Afghanistan may stay in neighboring countries, rather than return home, to ensure that the U.S. can act militarily within Afghanistan even without a formal presence there.

The Taliban, who agreed not to attack American troops in exchange for them leaving on May 1, asserted last week that the deal no longer held and, as such, it “opens the way for the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate to take every necessary countermeasure,” presumably including killing American soldiers between May and September.

The Global Times article went on to condemn the entirety of the Bush-era “war on terror” as a “failure” and that Afghanistan is now “stuck in misery” due to the United States.

“Because of the self-interest of the US, what is left is a split and chaotic country, which will have a negative impact on Afghanistan and the region for a long time,” one of those “analysts,” an “expert” at Lanzhou University, told the outlet. Another expert from Russia claimed the U.S. had left Afghanistan “with a mess on its hands” and that, by withdrawing, “the US is deliberately refusing to fulfill its obligations and looking for a reason to continue to use the military infrastructure built during its 20-year stay in Afghanistan.”

The Global Times concluded Biden is withdrawing from Afghanistan to focus on intimidating Chinese, even though Afghanistan shares a border with China’s Xinjiang region, home to the Communist Party’s infamous concentration camp system for Muslims. It also cited an expert, however, who made the claim the Afghan War in part served to test and develop technology meant to be used in any future war with larger powers like China.

“[O]bjectively speaking, the US has gained enormous benefits from the 20-year war in Afghanistan — not only through the anti-terrorism alliance to maintain the hegemony of the US system, but also expand the US overseas garrison to the central and western regions in Asia,” the outlet quoted the expert, Zhu Yongbiao, as stating. “Many new weapons and strategic and tactical methods were tested in Afghanistan.”

Zhu nonetheless concluded America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would benefit “extremist and drug-related forces” and would create a “long-term and complex … negative impact” on China’s western border.

The state propaganda outlet concluded that foreign investment from China could be the solution to the inevitable woes that would follow America’s departure.

The Global Times‘ screed against America for diminishing its military presence on China’s border, a week after the formal announcement of Biden’s extension of that presence, differed somewhat from the official response at the time from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“We hold that foreign troops in Afghanistan should withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner to ensure a stable transition and prevent terrorist forces from taking advantage of potential chaos to fester,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last week. “The U.S. is the single largest external factor in the Afghanistan issue. When making decisions and taking actions, the U.S. should respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, safeguard progress made in peaceful reconstruction, and fully accommodate regional countries’ legitimate security concerns.”

China, despite bordering Afghanistan, has played a minimal role in the 20 years of war that followed the September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks. China hosted the Taliban terrorist group in Beijing in 2019 for talks regarding a peace deal — and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — but the talks produced no concrete outcome. Some mainstream American media reports last year accused Beijing of offering bounties for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan, but provided no concrete evidence.

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