Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Will China open Wakhan Corridor to U.S.?

Wakhan Corridor@peter peng blog

Wakhan Corridor is a long and slender valley at Northeastern part of Afghanistan. It connects at the far-end with Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Annually from October to the second year’s June, the corridor is sealed by snow and ice.

Since November 2009, the Wakhan Corridor has been under the spotlight of the world, because U.S. president Barack Obama asked Chinese president Hu Jintao to open the Chinese part of the corridor for U.S. anti-terror military supplies going into Afghanistan from China when he visited China in Nov. 2009, due to U.S. military personnel reinforcement in Afghanistan and the unstable and vulnerable supply-line from Pakistan. It was said that Hu’s answer to Obama was “need time for discussion and consideration”.

Will China open Wakhan Corridor to U.S. after the consideration and discussion? The analysts’ answer is not optimistic. The main reasons are as follows,

First, China does not want to see a successful U.S. in Afghanistan. When China looks its neighbours finding that it has been surrounded by pro-American regimes, such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and India. Central Asia is the only part of its neighbourhood not firmly controlled by U.S. Although Obama told China clearly during his visit that U.S. had no plan to contain China, China would not believe U.S and change its mind from inertia so easily after so many years of conflicts with U.S. since Korea War of 1950s. If U.S. succeeds in Afghanistan, one pro-American regime would appear in China’s backyard. This certainly is not a good feeling to China.

Second, Taliban is not a die-hard feud of China. Before September 11, 2001, China had no diplomatic relationship with Taliban, but there was no resentment between the two sides either, and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China was much quite than today. China always thinks that its openly support to U.S. actions on Taliban caused Taliban’s anger to China, therefore East-Turkistan terrorists were accepted by Taliban after September 11, 2001. This leads China to believe that if China opens Wakhan Corridor to U.S., it would be equal to China declares a war to Taliban and anti-U.S. forces in Afghanistan and would cause more terror attacks of East-Turkistan to China.

Third, China does not want to offend any indigenous force in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is known as an empire shredder. China may think the United States may have to leave Afghanistan one day as same as the former Soviet Union (Maybe China has been doing something covertly to realize this target). China has already invested hugely in Afghanistan including the Aynak copper field and some traffic projects. If one day U.S. has to withdraw from there, China would still need to last the business relations with local Afghans. For this reason, China does not want to go close with U.S. to offend other Muslin forces there.

Fourth, China does not want to see U.S. military-existence in Xinjiang of China. Open Wakhan Corridor means set U.S. military station inside China’s border with Afghanistan. After the Uyghur riots broken out on 5 July 2009 in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, U.S. and western countries’ supports to Rabiye Qadir make China worry that U.S. would use the military facility to support covertly or overtly Xinjiang Uyghur independence one day.

The analysts believe the mostly probable choice to China would be: not open the corridor and keep some distance with U.S. If China refuses to open Wakhan Corridor, the best way for NATO would be: Occupy the corridor Afghan part to prevent from China’s possible covert military aids to anti-American forces in Afghanistan through Wakhan Corridor, the analysts also said.