China Sees Risks in Stepping Into Afghanistan After U.S. Withdrawal


TAIPEI—Chinese state media has mocked the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as the latest sign of America’s declining global prestige, but China is approaching its own plans for engaging with the country under Taliban rule with caution.

On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry cited portrayals in U.S. media of a new “Saigon moment.” China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency the day before tweeted side-by-side photos of helicopters evacuating U.S. government employees from Saigon and Kabul with the words “history repeats itself.”

Still, after largely being a bystander during two decades of heavy U.S. presence in its Western neighbor, China’s leadership appears to be wary of stepping into a volatile political situation where it has little experience, experts say.

Beijing’s biggest concern is potential ripple effects of Taliban rule, with its history of Islamic extremism, in China, where authorities have used tight border controls and draconian measures to control the minority Muslim Uyghur population in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

“China would really prefer not to be dealing with any of this,” said Andrew Small, a senior fellow specializing in Chinese foreign policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based think tank. As it watches the uncertainty clouding Afghanistan’s future, Beijing is “wary of being sucked in,” Mr. Small said.

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