Will China and India Collaborate or Feud Over Afghanistan?
As the China-India competitive dynamics play out elsewhere, Afghanistan presents an opportunity for those dynamics to fluidly and seamlessly switch between cooperation and competition.
India has enjoyed a long period of primacy in Afghanistan but a growing Chinese interest in the war-ridden country is poised to upset that delicate arrangement. China and India’s acrimonious border disputes epitomize their ongoing strategic rivalry but inadequately reflect the nature of their coexistence in a third country like Afghanistan. Investing in development projects on increased connectivity and trade to stabilize Afghanistan―also to fill the gap given the potential U.S. exit―makes economic and strategic sense for both countries, which have their respective objectives, and also provides opportunities for a deepened cooperation. As the China-India competitive dynamics play out elsewhere, Afghanistan presents an opportunity for those dynamics to fluidly and seamlessly switch between cooperation and competition.
The China-India competition has many of the smaller neighboring countries in the region concerned about getting caught between the two Asian giants. The 2017 Dolkam standoff exemplified the predicament for countries like Bhutan, which became the site of a conflict beyond its control. Even absent direct confrontation, India has been suspicious of any Chinese presence in its immediate vicinity, such as its presence in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and, likewise, Beijing has been intently watching the growing India-Japan rapprochement through joint projects and defense cooperation. However, there has been a recent effort from both sides to strike a more cooperative tone even amid mutual suspicion and rivalry, and Afghanistan is well-positioned to benefit from this sentiment.
Click here to read the full article on The National Interest.