China has been actively managing Afghanistan’s foreign relations as a guarantee to help Afghanistan escape its current state of isolation on the world stage.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of Pakistan and Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting Foreign Minister of Taliban, last week in Islamabad to hold talks as part of a China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Minister’s Dialogue.
Afghanistan’s stability is much more critical as the country’s insecurity will spill over to the regional countries. Meanwhile, there have been differences between the Taliban authorities and Pakistani officials over the presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and their hideouts in the country.
Pakistani officials accused the Taliban-ruled government of supporting the TTP and their hideouts in the country, while the Taliban denied any militant groups or their support, The New Arab reported.
According to statistics, there have been more than 150 attacks in 2022 in the neighbouring countries by the outlawed TTP, which can spill over to the broader region.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Chine, with its strategic coordination in the framework of a trilateral mechanism, hope to bring peace to the region. As the Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin, says, “There should be no ‘double standards’ in fighting terrorism,” The New Arab reported.
The Chinese FM then focused on critical regional issues like the unresolved Kashmir dispute and new geopolitical alliances in the neighbourhood, hoping Kabul and Islamabad would also tighten security measures for Chinese personnel, institutions, and project groups working in their countries.
According to experts, China’s two main objectives are to become a regional superpower and play a specific role in maintaining peace and security, as well as to increase its economic might so that it can participate in the exploitation of natural resources and the construction of infrastructure.
Recently, China has actively invested in Afghanistan’s natural resources, including Lithium and energy resources. The China-Based Gochin Company is interested in investing more than $10 billion in Afghanistan’s lithium mining sector, estimated to be worth more than $ 3 trillion.
This indicates that China has decided to control the county’s mineral resources, particularly lithium deposits, which are critical in global mineral supply chains.
Beijing has sought to expand its economic presence in Afghanistan and gain control of its natural resources since the Taliban overran Kabul. Chinese businesses and authorities have contacted Taliban leaders to renegotiate and restart prior mining and oil contracts.
On January 6, the Taliban signed a deal with Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company (CAPEIC), a contract to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin. The deal will see an investment of USD 150 million in the first year and USD 540 million over the next three years. A more significant presence in Afghanistan strengthens China’s regional power and influence.
China is in charge of the world’s lithium battery supply chain despite having yet to have anything close to the most significant lithium reserves in the world. According to the International Energy Agency, China accounts for 58% of the world’s refining capacity. By 2025, UBS AG projects that mines under Chinese control will have increased lithium production from 194,000 tons in 2022 to 705,000 tons.
This would increase China’s share of the mineral need for electric vehicle batteries from 24% in 2021 to 32% of the world supply. Other nations may now need to lessen their reliance on the Chinese lithium supply and build a safe, independent supply of Lithium before it is too late.
This could increase supply chain risks for those nations. The possibility that China will dominate the lithium market, as OPEC did with crude oil, is a real threat.