Abhishek Darbey, a research associate with the Chinese Research Program at the New Delhi-based Center for China Analysis and Strategy (CCAS), believes that the real reason behind China’s $10 billion offer to the Taliban for lithium is that the Chinese regime wants to control the region.
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A Chinese company has offered the Taliban $10 billion and a proposal to build key strategic infrastructure connecting north-south Afghanistan in exchange for access to the country’s lithium reserves. Some experts raised concerns that the offer would allow the Chinese regime to expand its influence in the region.
The proposal was discussed between a representative of Gochin and the acting minister of the Taliban’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Sheikh Hadith Shahabuddin Delawar, in his office on April 13. The talks happened just a few months after the Taliban arrested two Chinese nationals trying to smuggle 1,000 metric tons of lithium-bearing rocks out of the country.
Experts said it needs to be seen if the deal is feasible, but once signed, it will have diplomatic and political ramifications, and the proposed infrastructure development will likely have a long-term strategic impact.
“Geopolitically, this deal could give China a significant advantage and influence in the region, as it secures a supply of critical resources and strengthens its presence in Afghanistan,” Maher Saadat, an exiled activist and Afghan affairs analyst, told The Epoch Times in an email.
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Afghanistan’s lithium reserves potentially rival those of Bolivia, which has the world’s most significant amount of lithium resources. The Taliban’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said in a press release that the deal, once executed, will provide direct employment to 120,000 people and indirectly to 1 million.
Abhishek Darbey, a research associate of the Chinese Research Program at the New Delhi-based Center for China Analysis and Strategy (CCAS), pointed out to The Epoch Times in an email that China is among the first countries that supported the Taliban to form a government in Kabul following the withdrawal of the United States from the country. He believes the Chinese regime wants to control the region.
“In the case of Afghanistan, the country is important for China because the land domain of the Belt and Road Initiative will pass through this region, and a peaceful Afghanistan will create favorable conditions for the BRI to grow and progress,” he said.
“Also, China considers itself to be a major power of the region and, therefore, it wants to be a participant in [the] decision-making of the region or wants to be a power with a capacity to influence the regional politics,” he added.
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