Although Beijing has not officially recognized Afghanistan’s Taliban government, China’s Xinjiany Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company (CAPEIC) and the Afghan Taliban government are signing a 25-year contract allowing the CAPEIC to drill for oil in Afghan’s Northern Territory.
“The Amu Darya oil contract is an important project between China and Afghanistan,” China’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu told a news conference in the capital Kabul on Thursday.
The oil extraction agreement will allow CAPEIC to drill for oil in the Amu Darya basin, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.
China’s vested long-term economic interest in Afghanistan raises security stakes for the Taliban and ISIS fighting in-country. It also highlights further evaluation of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2021 that paved the way for the Taliban to gain control in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has viscerally shredded human rights across the country and destroyed it economically. Over 90% of the country is in poverty.
Another Chinese state-owned company has been in talks over the operation of a copper mine in eastern Afghanistan for a long time. That deal was resurrected after the U.S. withdrawal in 2021.
When Biden ordered the evacuation of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the progress advanced when the U.S. was present collapsed and returned the Taliban to power. The evacuation was a disaster and raised the question at the time if Biden’s decision was orchestrated to give the Chinese a green light.
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For years, it has been estimated that Afghanistan sits on natural gas, copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium and other natural resources worth an estimated $1 trillion.
Those with eyes on Afghanistan has speculated the Northern Territory was valuable for oil and other natural resources and that the Chinese had their eyes on that same part of Afghanistan for a pathway to expand China’s Belt and Road Brick Initiative (BRI).
China has been investing across Africa and South America in emerging countries for decades with renown coercive business deals to build ports, and bridges, roads infrastructures.
In 2013, President Xi Jinping launched BRI with the CCP’s sights to build over land and sea.
The Chinese government has been calling for lifting the sanctions against Afghanistan since the return of the Taliban’s power.