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Will China be better off as the US quits Afghanistan?

In the short term, Beijing has insulated itself against all direct threats but questions remain as to how strong that insulation is.

A US Chinook helicopter flying over Kabul in 2017. Beijing may now be enjoying America's withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it is the one that is most likely to feel the longer-term repercussions, says the writer.
A US Chinook helicopter flying over Kabul in 2017. Beijing may now be enjoying America's withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it is the one that is most likely to feel the longer-term repercussions, says the writer. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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China is enjoying the United States' precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan. From Beijing's perspective, America's abrupt dash for the exit as the conflict continues to rage reinforces the argument that the US is an erratic and unreliable player on the world stage.

This glee, however, should be tempered by the fact that the trouble that is likely to follow America's withdrawal is going to cause Beijing more trouble than the seemingly never-ending conflict which it has been able to observe from the sidelines.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2020, with the headline Will China be better off as the US quits Afghanistan?. Subscribe