Beijing seeks axis with Moscow against terrorism in Central Asia
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Support for the Taliban is conditional on containing the Uyghurs and other jihadist forces. In a conversation with Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi also recalled the attacks on technicians working on the Belt& Road Initiative. The hypothesis of a buffer zone on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan guarded together.




Moscow (AsiaNews) - Yesterday's attacks around the Kabul airport pose the question of relations between the Taliban and the jihadist galaxy in Central Asia. The Chinese support to the new Afghan regime is mainly conditioned by the will to eliminate the Uyghur separatists involved in the Central Asian conflict, as underlined by Nezavisimaja Gazeta in an article of August 23 signed by Vladimir Skosyrev. China also demands that Russia commit itself to guaranteeing the stability of the entire ex-Soviet area, thanks to the still very close ties with these countries. The Chinese do not intend to engage in military actions against the Afghans, although they do not exclude supporting Tajikistan in the control of some border sections.

These lines of foreign policy were confirmed the other day in a telephone conversation between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his colleagues from Turkey and Pakistan, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The willingness of the Taliban to express a tolerant government, and to put an end to drug smuggling, was positively appreciated, but above all it is asked to break off all relations with all terrorist groups. In particular, what worries Beijing is the "Islamic Movement of East Turkestan", which intends to make Xinjiang an independent state.

Wang also reminded Qureshi of the terrorist act carried out in northern Pakistan in October 2020, as a result of which ten Chinese specialists working on Belt& Road Initiative projects planned on Pakistani territory died. In order to avoid the recurrence of such incidents, it is necessary to implant more perfected mechanisms of security assurance, also taking into account the already existing close military alliance between Beijing and Islamabad.

Russian-Chinese cooperation appears decidedly more complicated, in the attempt to block the spread of terrorists in the ex-Soviet countries of Central Asia, defined by many commentators as "Russia's back yard". Beijing does not recognize the colonization rights of the Russians, but believes that Moscow has responsibilities in these countries that it has occupied for many years. Experts such as Pan Guang, director of research of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, speak on this delicate issue. According to him, "it is necessary to create a neutral zone between the borders of Tajikistan and Afghanistan in Central Asian countries. It should be supervised by the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization chaired by Moscow".

A Russian expert, Higher School of Economics collaborator Vasilij Kašin, observes in turn that "Russia has always claimed to play a leading role in the security of that region, and it provides military support to Central Asian countries to a much greater extent than China." Reversing priorities, Kašin states that Russia will be willing to engage directly in military actions "only together with the Shanghai Organization and under its direction. After all, China will never go to war alone, but only within an international coalition, and after using all the means and money of diplomacy." The Chinese are rather interested in economic intervention in these countries, to assert their hegemony.

Russia and China, as Asian superpowers, are however interested in filling the void left by the United States, to which all the media of the two countries continue to blame the mistakes that led to the current crisis. China in particular seems to be worried about the resources that the Americans could use to counter Chinese economic and political influence at a general level, once they have freed themselves from the Afghan burden. Professor John Delury, of Yonsei College in Seoul, said that "nervousness rather than satisfaction reigns in Beijing; the U.S. has ultimately pulled out of an unpopular war, and can now focus on competing with China."