China-Afghanistan Relations

The Afghanistan government of Hamid Karzai and China established a formal diplomatic relationship in late 2001 shortly after the collapse of the Taliban regime.

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited China for the first time in 2002. He later made some more official visits, the most recent in March 2010.
  • Former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai visited Afghanistan in 1957, but no state leader has made the journey to Kabul since then.
  • The two countries have had diplomatic ties since 1955, making Afghanistan one of the earlier countries to recognise the Communist regime of Mao Zedong instead of Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government.
  • It’s worth note that China did not recognise the Taliban government that held Kabul from 1996 to 2001, but had indirect channels of communication via Taliban ally Pakistan. The Sino-Afghan relationship has been influenced by the powerful bonds that tie Beijing and Islamabad due to mistrust of India.
  • The China and Afghanistan share a border of 76 km whose lowest point Wakhjir Pass is 5,000 metres above sea level. There are no roads leading to the border on either side.
  • China has no troops in Afghanistan.
  • China also does not have any interest in sending troops to join a conflict in which it feels it has only a limited immediate stake China is also not unhappy to see U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
  • China has made investment in only one Copper Mine at Aynak and so China does not have any major financial interests to protect.
  • Bilateral trade between China and Afghanistan is very small and it includes mainly the Afghans buying the Chinese goods.
  • Afghanistan is known for relying on foreign aid for around 90 percent of its budget. Afghanistan has vast reserves of mineral wealth, which it hopes that it could make it self-sufficient. China’s insatiable appetite for resources, and willingness to expand mining in Afghanistan, makes it a natural partner.

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