An article on East Asia Forum by Mr Raffaello Pantucci, “China’s leadership opportunity in Afghanistan” states that China has a good opportunity to showcase itself as a global leader. The NATO troops are pulling out of Afghanistan as the 2014 deadline draws near. With its economic leverage in Afghanistan, China has great opportunity to step in to influence and stabilize the country.
China has several good reasons to do so as well. With the NATO troops gone, the regional terrorist networks will be freer to look outwards, and may affect regional security. Particularly when China shares bordes with Afghanistan. Secondly, any instability in the regional will hit Xinjiang hard as it is directly borderland with Afghanistan. Thirdly and probably most importantly, once instability hits the country, China’s investments in the country is at risk.
How will China wield its “soft power” to influence the region? We have seen that in the case of Venezuela, China investors have been willing to go into regions where American firms are unwilling. They seems to be capable of dealing with traders with dubious background, where human rights may be ignored and legal framework uncertain. However, once Hugo Chavez died in Mar 2013, the deals are cut off. Evidently, the way China wields its soft power is through a lease on selected people of power. Once the key personality is gone, the leverage is gone.
Mighty as China is economically now, it probably will be very careful before treading in to uncertain grounds once again, even if to seek regional stability near its borders.