The realization of the strategy of each country in national and transnational dimensions, whether in the form of region or trans-region, is formed through key events. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is one of the key influential events that both have the potential to turn the region into a crossroads of China’s ambitions and could become a trap for Beijing to swamp Afghanistan so that it, like previous invading empires, will this time become a graveyard for China’s defeat.
One of the goals of the United States in China’s grand control strategy is to focus on the seas, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to draw China’s attention to Afghanistan’s rich mines and China’s connection to Europe. This approach is inspired by the performance of US “containment strategies” against the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the US experience of its own bitter defeat in Afghanistan.
Since 2017, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has stated in many important foreign policy speeches that “our world is undergoing profound changes that have not been seen in a century.” The idea that the world order is once again on the verge of transition due to unprecedented geopolitical and technological changes will bring about strategic changes, especially among the great powers. The source of these changes could be China’s growing power or America’s decline that China translates into the apparent collapse of the West.
In 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union. In the same year, the rise of populism led to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. From China’s point of view, which is very sensitive to the US threat, these two events were shocking. Beijing believes that the world’s most powerful democracies are moving away from the international order they have created and, on the other hand, are struggling to implement domestic policies in the political and economic spheres.
The West’s response to the Coronavirus epidemic in 2020 and then the extremist attack on the US Congress in 2021 reinforced this sentiment in China. “And now is the time for great development and great change,” Xi Jinping stressed shortly after the events. China’s leadership and foreign policy elite believe it is a “historic opportunity” to expand its strategic focus from within and to Asia and other parts of the world, with the goal of the wider world working more closely with governing systems to challenge international order. And the preparation for effective global co-governance has emerged.
Has emerged for the strategic expansion and focus of their country; This historic opportunity could provide China with a wider space for deep cooperation with governance systems in order to challenge and prepare for a joint and effective global governance by expanding Beijing’s influence to other countries.
In the early years of the third millennium, China not only sought regional influence like many of the great powers but also like the United States that shaped the twentieth century, given the progress it has made, even if it does not want to lay the groundwork. To shape the 21st century, it has triggered an earthquake at the core of US-China rivalry over regional and global order.
China has willingly and unwillingly acquired the potential to be a serious competitor or serious partner of the United States in shaping the regional and global order of the third millennium. Even if the United States does not accept China’s role in shaping the new international order, Beijing has the potential to exclude the United States from the future world order in cooperation with Russia and even Iran.
In its global approach, China pursues three parallel “alternative” strategies with the United States at the economic, political, and military levels to shape the future order. These strategies are being quietly implemented in various sectors. In parallel with the neutralization of the American order, the Chinese order must be created, and by expanding this order at the regional and global levels, the United States must be deprived of understanding and initiative in regional and global issues, and gradually strip Washington of its parallel power.
Beijing is confidently trying to determine the outcome for the next decade. Beijing is well aware that the characteristic of great power is its breadth, or in other words, its sphere of influence; As a result, they must seek to maintain the legitimacy and acceptability of their rule at the transnational and supra-regional levels. It must be able to supply its raw materials easily and penetrate international markets in order to conquer global markets.
While the United States spent $ 2.6 billion in Afghanistan, China did not follow the American model in Afghanistan, as such a model could incite militants, especially Uyghurs, to push extremism toward China and a cycle of harsh actions and reactions. And not create an easy exit for Beijing like the United States; If Beijing gets caught in the swamp of Afghanistan, it cannot board a plane like the United States and leave Kabul at night because it is right next to Afghanistan and a large part of it in Xinjiang province is similar to this country. China has taken this into account in its calculations and has so far shown that it is reluctant to spend heavily on offensive motives and that despite Beijing’s military activities in the South China Sea, China does not appear to be willing to expand its territory through military force. What is most important in evaluating China is building a sophisticated infrastructure to compete in the new competition.
Beijing believes that military potential is growing based on economic capabilities, or vice versa. China is currently an economic superpower and has a larger domestic economy than the United States. China has embarked on what it calls the most ambitious foreign investment in history, both to strengthen its long-term economic outlook and to expand its influence. The Belt-One Road Initiative is expanding from China to Western Europe and the rest of the world by land and sea, increasing China’s global credibility with the potential for long-term revenue and dependency. China hopes to connect Asia to Africa and Europe via land and sea networks covering 60 countries through a one-lane-a-road strategy. The $ 4 trillion projects will automatically boost China’s influence around the world, and even if China’s leaders are reluctant to become the next world superpower, support for such massive investment will pull them away.
Economic growth forecasts, attention to social welfare, and China’s defense spending indicate that the country will surpass the United States by 2030. China’s main goals are to build a country that is socially stable by 2050, progressively economically advanced, high-tech advanced, and militarily superior. At the regional level, China certainly wants to dominate its backyard in Asia, and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has given China that opportunity. Beijing now has a strategic opportunity to establish a strategic economic-military foothold in the region and sees Afghanistan and Iran as an opportunity to become a central hub for the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe.
Establishment of parallel structures with Western institutions in different regions by China, formation of fiscal and exchange rate policy, trade and investment, formation of infrastructure projects and trans-regional technology along with organizations and mechanisms supported by Chinese companies have been able to overcome the traditional American influence and Challenge Europe in key international institutions and areas of international politics and law. The combination of these multiple initiatives has been very effective for China, and these approaches in a period of time attracted significant attention in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Of course, China does not yet have strategic allies, even at the regional and Asian levels.