China calls for global support to Afghanistan

[China is taking the lead in drumming-up support for Afghan stability, something that the US cannot achieve on its own , not even with NATO at its side (even if that was ever actually an American goal).  It is in the whole world’s interest to bring the Afghan and Iraq wars, as well as the war on Gaza, to an end, finally putting to rest the violent legacy of George Bush and Dick Cheney.  China wants to talk about what comes after the majority of the shooting stops in Afghanistan.  American plans stand in direct opposition to Chinese concerns about American military leaders embracing the idea that “persistent conflict” will continue throughout the region for a “decade or a generation.”

The saner minds of the world must construct a new Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, one based on eliminating both the opium and the militant industries from Afghan soil, in addition to the reconstruction.   China should invest some of its stockpiled wealth to put together an agricultural program that finds competitive substitutes for opium, even if that means unconventional solutions, such as paying twice the Afghan market value of opium for common vegetables.  {Wholesale (farm gate) prices in Afghanistan have fallen by a third in the past year: from $70/kg to $48/kg for fresh opium; from $95/kg to $64/kg for the dry variety.}

The world will not accept American plans for leaving Afghanistan in a state of chaotic collapse, while US forces move deeper into central Asia in search of new gas and oil supplies.  SEE: America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread]

China calls for global support to Afghanistan

By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
China calls for global support to AfghanistanReg Pitts, Staff Sergeant of Royal Canadian Military Police, shows a picture on his camera to Afghan children near a police station on the outskirts of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan on Thursday. [Agencies]

Nation needs more than economic assistance during transition period

BEIJING – China called for more international support to Afghanistan on Friday, days ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s first visit to China after his re-election in November last year.

Some commentators said Beijing is likely to offer Kabul more assistance other than economic aid.

Li Baodong, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, called upon the international community to “step up efforts to assist” Afghanistan in “strengthening its military and police forces”, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The international community must remain focused on Afghanistan, which is currently in a key transitional period, and increase support and assistance to enhance Afghan sovereignty and capacity for development, Li said.

He also said that China supports the lead coordination role played by the UN in helping Afghanistan in its reconstruction process.

Li made the remarks just five days ahead of Karzai’s China visit starting Tuesday.

Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Thursday enhancing economic cooperation and trade with Afghanistan would top the agenda during Karzai’s three-day visit.

“China hopes to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan with progress and development,” he said.

Besides President Hu Jintao, Karzai will also meet Premier Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

China has provided $900 million since 2002 in assistance for various reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and recently granted another $75 million, Qin said.

China calls for global support to Afghanistan

China has also invested in the $3.5 million Aynak copper mining project and related infrastructure, the biggest investment in recent times.

Ye Hailin, an Asian studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: “it is impossible for Beijing not to offer assistance since Karzai is coming.”

He, however, did not say whether China would offer something beyond economic assistance.

“If you have money, just offer money; if you have might, then just offer might,” Ye said, adding Afghanistan needs everything from reconstruction to economic development.

“Focusing on economic development is the key to improving Afghanistan’s domestic situation. It is also in line with China’s diplomatic thought,” said Dong Manyuan, an analyst at China Institute of International Studies.

Such a strategy has also led to international experts urging China to extend more help for the war-torn neighboring country.

Since early 2008, officials from NATO and Afghanistan, for example, have repeatedly asked China to open up the 76-km-long border on the east end of mountainous Vakhan corridor to offer logistics support for the international forces fighting terrorists in Afghanistan.

China has rejected the appeal as it sees it as an excuse to pull Beijing into the war on terror.

Beijing has so far played “a low key role in Afghanistan, sticking to developmental projects and refraining from taking a pro-active role in containing the Taliban by backing US and other countries efforts in this regard”, Press Trust of India said on Thursday.

But Dong said China “has noticed how difficult the security situation is” in Afghanistan. “I think it’s possible for China to help train Afghan troops and soldiers, enhance anti-terror cooperation and even supply anti-terror equipment.”

China has actually offered help in such areas after 19 Afghan National Army members underwent a seven-week-long mine defusing course in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province late last year.

China Daily