Russian-Chinese cooperation and competition in Afghanistan and its implications for Central Asia
The University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw
Data publikacji: 29-12-2023
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2022;58:94-115
This paper aims to explore current and perspective trends of relations between Russia and China in Afghanistan and Central Asia. It also analyzes whether the withdrawal of the U.S. and the subsequent Taliban takeover helped—and continues to help—strengthen the two powers’ positions in the region and what kind of challenges and benefits they face. The paper examines the hypothesis that the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power added to Russia and China’s benefits in the region. The research uses content analysis regarding official documents, political and military elite speeches, interviews, and reports to explain Russia and China’s official positions and policies regarding Afghanistan and Central Asia. Relations between the two powers as regards Afghanistan and Central Asia are comparatively analyzed. The paper uses the neorealist approach, which is fit for explaining relations between Russia and China in Afghanistan and Central Asia. After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, regional security is now the business of the regional powers, mainly China and Russia. Now they should bear the responsibilities and share the burdens. There is probably more ground for competition after eliminating the threats in Afghanistan and especially in Central Asia for Moscow and Beijing. However, Russia and China will continue to try to align their interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia, especially if their relations with U.S. remain at the current level or worsen in the coming years. Based on the findings, this paper argues that, on the one hand, Russia and China continue to try to take advantage of the instability in the region by stepping up their security and economic influences in Central Asia. However, their stabilizing efforts in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the U.S., ironically may increase competition between China and Russia.
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