Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 01:44 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 01:44 | SYDNEY

Afghanistan: China offers copper-ation

31 March 2010 14:45

James Brown has worked as an Australian Defence Force officer and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2009. These are his personal views.

The Presidents of China and Afghanistan met last week when Hamid Karzai visited Beijing to discuss deepening political and economic ties between the countries. The same day, China's largest state-run English daily newspaper ran a strongly worded op-ed detailing why China and the US are unable to cooperate on Afghanistan.

The China Daily article says the US military presence in Afghanistan has put increased pressure on China's defence, that Chinese contractors in Afghanistan face disadvantages, and that the US 'offensive counter-terrorism strategy' is using Afghanistan 'as a pawn to help maintain its global dominance and contain its competitors'.

This blog has looked at the emerging regional order in Central Asia, which ties Afghanistan and China together through the mechanism of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Afghanistan has observer status at the SCO, but China has expressed a preference for Afghanistan to assume a greater role. The China Daily piece was written by a researcher for the SCO Research Centre who concluded that the SCO provides a suitable forum 'to resolve the Afghan issue' and offers the prospect of SCO-led economic re-development and reconstruction as a salve for Afghan's development ails.

China has significant economic interests in Afghanistan, though its contribution to Afghan reconstruction has been well behind Western nations. The state-owned China Metallurgical Group intends to contribute US$3 billion towards the development of Afghanistan's Anyak copper mine, 30km South of Kabul.

If the mine contains the 11.3 million tonnes of copper expected by the Afghan Government, the site has the potential to deliver over US$80 billion to China based on current copper prices. The vast bulk of the military forces providing security in Logar province, where the Anyak mine is located, are American.

Photo by Flickr user max's pixs, used under a Creative Commons license.