China could prove ultimate winner in Afghanistan
KABUL – China, long a bystander to the conflict in Afghanistan, is stepping up its involvement as U.S.-led forces prepare to withdraw, attracted by the country's vast mineral resources but concerned that any post-2014 chaos could embolden Islamist insurgents in its own territory.
Cheered on by the U.S. and other Western governments, which see Asia's giant as a potentially stabilizing force, China could prove the ultimate winner in Afghanistan – having shed no blood and not much aid.
Security – or the lack of it – remains the key challenge: Chinese enterprises have already bagged three multibillion dollar investment projects, but they won't be able to go forward unless conditions get safer. While the Chinese do not appear ready to rush into any vacuum left by the withdrawal of foreign troops, a definite shift toward a more hands-on approach to Afghanistan is under way.
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