Samsraya’s strategy in explaining China’s Implication in the Afghanistan-Taliban era

Conflict is a formidable problem to avoid in Afghanistan, as never before, conflict continues to rumble in Afghanistan which causes the country to be badly affected. The presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan has a significant influence in this conflict. Afghanistan is experiencing an economic collapse as the international community froze resources to Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power. Western countries are reluctant to help Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s policy of stifling the education and careers of women. However, not a few countries want to help Afghanistan through funds to prevent a further humanitarian crisis, one of which is China. China also recognizes that the military and political power in Afghanistan is under the Taliban after the regime declared a new government. In addition, China will take a role in development in Afghanistan and the Taliban welcome the offer made by China. In international relations, the realism paradigm has succeeded in explaining this phenomenon.

One of the thinkers in this paradigm is Kautilya or Chanakya, a philosopher from India, who has succeeded in expressing his thoughts in Arthasastra which discusses the principles of foreign policy to military strategies to create national prosperity. The two basic concepts of realist thought expressed by Kautilya are Mandala and Dharma. Translated from Sanskrit, Mandala means circle. The circle that Kautilya is referring to is the expansion of power to seek conquered territory so that it will create a kingdom that is surrounded by other kingdoms as enemies. Outside this circle, the enemy kingdoms became allies to the core kingdom. Another concept is Dharma which means goodness. Apart from expanding the kingdom, Kautilya believed that the king’s duty was to maintain the peace and welfare of his citizens. One way to get welfare is by establishing the diplomatic strategy which is Samsraya (protection), namely a policy to protect the “conquered” countries.

With many conflicts culminating in the Taliban, the United States, which provided assistance by placing its military in Taliban territory, withdrew its troops. The United States withdrawal from Afghanistan created a lot of unstoppable chaos so that the humanitarian and economic crisis skyrocketed. With this in mind, China calls on the United States and its allied countries to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, because so far Afghanistan has revolved around donations from many countries, such as the United States which supplies food and other necessities. China became the first foreign country to promise foreign aid. The Taliban, who are facing a crisis, have welcomed the aid shipments brought in by China. China continues to maintain effective communications to discuss Afghanistan’s reconstruction and it continues to provide assistance in the diplomatic field by seeking international support and assistance to urge western powers to provide assistance. Then, a new question arises that is relevant from a realism perspective, why is China helping Afghanistan when many countries don’t want to get involved with Afghanistan?

The assistance provided to Afghanistan by China was not solely dominated by the “compassion” factor or cooperation, but the Samsraya diplomacy strategy which was emphasized, namely protecting the conquered countries. China does not implicitly show concern about the impact of the conflict that Afghanistan is experiencing that may affect China, but it realizes that as a country that has other investments and involvements, China must move to protect its national interests. The significant impact that may arise had it did not use Samsraya‘s diplomatic strategy; the Chinese investment would have been disrupted around in Afghanistan. On the security side, China also urges the Taliban to cut ties with other terrorist networks because they are worried that terrorism will enter China’s national security. With the economic support from China that Afghanistan needs, China can control the policies of the Taliban and the Taliban is also believed to not oppose China on the topic of Uighurs.

It can be concluded that China’s contribution in Afghanistan is in line with the Kautilya’s ideas towards Samsraya which focus on the state as the main actor which get driven by the national interest through capabilities based on an anarchic hierarchy. The common thread that can be drawn from the assistance provided by China to Afghanistan is to ensure the stability of economic and investment projects because currently China is the largest investor competing with India and China tries to close the gap for India and other competitors to enter the region.

References:

Dugis, Vinsensio. Teori hubungan internasional perspektif-perspektif klasik. Accessed from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Vinsensio-Dugis/publication/321709080_Teori_Hubungan_Internasional_Perspektif-Perspektif_Klasik/links/5a7f16a80f7e9be137c71dbb/Teori-Hubungan-Internasional-Perspektif-Perspektif-Klasik.pdf

Idrus, Pizaro Gozali. (2021, Agustus 11). Membaca maksud terselubung China di Afghanistan. Accessed from https://www.aa.com.tr/id/dunia/opini-membaca-maksud-terselubung-china-di-afghanistan/2330702

Kirana, Sasi Inayah. (2019). Analisa penarikan mundur pasukan Amerika Serikat di Afghanistan tahun 2018. Accessed from http://repository.umy.ac.id/handle/123456789/31540

Kuo, Mercy A. (2021). China in Afghanistan: how Beijing engages the Taliban. Accessed from https://thediplomat.com/2021/12/china-in-afghanistan-how-beijing-engages-the-taliban/

Kusumawardani, Damar. (2017, December 25). Prinsip-prinsip kebijakan Kautilya dalam hubungan internasional. Accessed from http://damar-kusumawardani-fisip15.web.unair.ac.id/artikel_detail-216177-Masyarakat%20Budaya%20dan%20Politik%20Asia%20Selatan-Prinsipprinsip%20Kebijakan%20Luar%20Negeri%20Kautilya%20dalam%20Hubungan%20Internasional.html

P, Tiffany. (2010, September 1). China’s role in shaping the future of Afghanistan. Accessed from https://carnegieendowment.org/files/china_role_afghanistan.pdf

Syawali, Rafqi. (2019, January 1). Kepentingan Tiongkok dalam konflik Afghanistan 2013-2017.Accessed from https://jom.unri.ac.id/index.php/JOMFSIP/article/download/24155/23385

Image Sources:

Petyr Baeish Books. (2020, July 16). A review of Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil  Khilnani. Accessed from https://petyrbaeishbooks.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/how-many-times-can-tova-mention-chandragupta-in-one-review-the-answer-is-a-lot-or-a-review-of-incarnations-a-history-of-india-in-fifty-lives-by-sunil-khilnani/

CNBC. (2021, 23 August). Hedging their bets’: Political experts weigh in on China’s growing relations with the Taliban. Accessed from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/23/china-and-taliban-relations-with-afghanistan-are-tricky-analysts-say.html

CNN. China teams up with Taliban in unlikely partnership. Accessed from https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2021/08/19/china-taliban-allies-culver-lead-pkg-vpx.cnn

About The Writer

Muhammad Al-Fasya Syabil Sholatar is an undergraduate from University of Muhammadiyah Malang who currently studying the international relations. He enjoys writing and studying that can be reflected through his achievement in balancing his academic and non-academic aspects. He likes to get involved in many conferences and competitions and He also strives to always involve himself in society through organizations and volunteers. He believes that the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

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