China is succeeding in Afghanistan where the US & Canada failed

The U.S., Canada, and other NATO countries have done a lot of work building up Afghanistan over the past decade. Yet, China is the one rushing in to fill the void left by the departing Western powers. Today, we're asking what China sees for itself, and the region in its new Afghan presence.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L). As NATO nations pull out of Afghanistan, China sees a future in the very country that Canada, the U.S. and others have left behind. (AFP/Getty Images)
A young Afghan stands at a square where workers wait to be hired in Kabul. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic )

Until recently, the major foreign presence inside Afghanistan was Canada, the U.S., and our NATO allies. At the launch of the war there more than a decade ago, you might have called those Western powers, "Afghanistan's New Hope." Canadian Armed Forces were there, for nine difficult years... finally pulling out just last year. The mission cost the lives of 158 soldiers.

The American military presence in Afghanistan is miniscule today, and gearing down toward a complete withdrawal of troops, later next year. The Western withdrawal may be leaving a void in the country... but there is a surprising new power stepping in to fill it. China is emerging as a major player inside the country... with which it shares a border.

In fact some are calling China "Afghanistan's New Hope" today.

Graeme Smith is a former international correspondent with the Globe and Mail who now works as a Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group in Kabul, Afghanistan. And he's the author of the book, "The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan." We reached Graeme Smith in Kabul.

It's too early to tell whether China will be more successful at helping bring stability to Afghanistan than Canada and our allies were. But Wenran Jian says that may well be the case.

Wenran Jiangis a professor of political science at the Univeristy of Alberta. He joined us from Calgary.

Of course it's not just in Afghanistan that China is expanding. The country is stepping out in a very large way on the world stage today. And in fact, the pace of China's expansion has some China watchers a little bit worried.

Michael Kugelman is a Senior Program Associate for South and Southeast Asia with the Asia Program at the Wilson Centre. He was in Washington DC.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant and Marc Apollonio.