China should beware ending up in an Afghan creditor trap
Its Belt and Road assets in the region have been poor performers
The hurried withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan—the 1975 fall of Saigon déjà vu—has been heralded as a win for China and an opportunity for Beijing to extend its influence across the region. It’s even been raised as a lesson for Taiwan not to rely on American protection, in the eyes of the Global Times, a state-run tabloid. However, the ironic truth for China is that the only thing worse than US soldiers near its borders is not having them there at all. Afghanistan is a big headache for Beijing, which fears chaos there will spill over not just to its restive region of Xinjiang but to Pakistan. The People’s Republic has invested huge infrastructure projects as well as extended huge loans to Islamabad as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).