The NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan is causing an internal turmoil in the country leading to external actors preparing to step in. Regional actors are now seeing a greater opportunity than ever to further their interests in Afghanistan. Multiple countries have already made clear moves to fill this vacuum, and as somewhat of a surprise this seems to bring a sense of relief to the US.
For example, the US likely would have previously resisted that a rival such as China interfere in the internal issues of Afghanistan. However, as the current security situation worsens, and the US and its allies will no longer be present to support Afghan security and keep the Taliban at bay, the attitude has changed. China’s foreign minister recently met with a Taliban delegation in an attempt to secure diplomatic ties, and as reported by Emma Graham-Harrison for the Guardian, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has gone as far as to say that this interest could be a “positive thing” as furthering instability would not support China’s interests. What are China’s interests in Afghanistan? China likely wants to expand the Belt and Road Initiative and search for oil and rare earth minerals, which requires a certain amount of political stability in the country. Concern past this is likely limited.