Russia and China just indicated they’re planning to make a big move into Afghanistan.
As the War in Afghanistan winds down and the United States focuses on making final inroads economically, the Shanghai Cooperation organisation (SCO) just made Afghanistan an observing member on Wednesday.
This could mean big things for Afghanistan, but might mean that the U.S. will get scooped on access to valuable natural resources.
The SCO was founded in 2001 and is a multinational mutual-security organisation made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. China played host this year to the yearly conference, and announced that Afghanistan would be made an observing member.
The group focuses on security concerns and economic cooperation. As China continues to invest internationally, the move to bring Afghanistan into the SCO as an observer is a bold move on the part of the central Asian co-op.
But China comes out as the big winner.
The move could also open up access to a chunk of a $10 billion loan that Chinese President Hu Jintao announced last week, money intended to support economic development among SCO member states.
China and Russia dominate the group, each with an immense economy compared to the other members and the ability to inject capital into neighbouring countries as they wish.
This throws a wrench into American plans.
The recent prominence of the group — especially the warming relationship between Russia and China — presents a new consideration for United States foreign policy makers when planning strategies to remain economically significant in Asia.
China is going all in for Afghan natural resources for a really good reason, too.
The AP reported that firms from China have already moved into Afghanistan and plan to make a fortune off of that country’s ample mineral deposits — estimated to be worth anywhere from $1 trillion to $3 trillion.
China’s National Petroleum Corp currently has the largest foreign investment in Afghanistan, a $3.5 billion stake in a copper mine.
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