Afghanistan

A man holds a portrait of slain Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on 5 January 2024 in the Iranian capital Tehran. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Terrorist attack in Iran sends shockwaves closer to China’s borders

With the latest 4 January bombing in Iran by the Islamic State, likely by the ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province) branch of the grouping, China is facing a renewed threat of one of its greatest fears: terrorism connecting the Middle East and Central Asia.
Afghan security personnel guard the inauguration ceremony of an iron ore mine, at Ghurian district in Herat province, Afghanistan, on 9 November 2023. (Mohsen Karimi/AFP)

Chain reaction of corruption is hurting Afghanistan's mining industry

Researcher Javed Noorani gives his assessment on the recent awarding of a contract in the Nuraba-Samti mine to an Afghan-Chinese joint venture, and comments on the wider cycle of corruption in Afghanistan's mining sector which may end up hurting the Afghan administration and dozens of small-scale Chinese developers.
Taliban soldiers celebrate on the second anniversary of the fall of Kabul on a street near the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 15 August 2023. (Ali Khara/Reuters)

Is China engaged in resource politics in Afghanistan?

With increasing stakes in Afghanistan's vast mineral and energy deposits, China is engaged in resource politics in the war-wracked but resource-rich country. Maintaining control of the country's strategic mineral and energy reserves is the name of China's new great game in Afghanistan.
Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel stand guard outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, on 14 April 2023. (Narinder Nanu/AFP)

The India-Pakistan saga at the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting: The China factor

Pundits hoping for a sign of detente between India and Pakistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting in Goa recently would have been disappointed. It is in Pakistan’s interest to keep relations with India testy leading up to its elections, and China’s support may just give it the ammunition it needs.
Police stand guard near the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 May 2022. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

Families that rule: Thoughts about Asia's political landscape

The political environment in Asia has been marked with upheavals and instability. While each country has their own system of democratic elections in the modern sense, they appear to share a number of common themes that resembles the backward political practices of 19th century Europe. Academic Chen Liujun assesses the regional developments.
Traffic moves past apartment buildings in the Clifton area of Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 March 2022. (Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Pakistan, Russia and China: A new tripartite geopolitical centre of gravity in South Asia?

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Moscow during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Pakistan’s abstention in the UN General Assembly vote denouncing the Russian war could be an indication of a policy shift towards a more independent Pakistani foreign policy. Such a development could mean closer Pakistani ties with both China and Russia and the forming of a new geopolitical nexus in South Asia.
In this photo taken on 18 February 2022, a Taliban fighter stands guard at the entrance gate of the Afghan-Iran border crossing bridge in Zaranj, Afghanistan. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP)

Afghanistan's role in changing the power balance in Eurasia

Afghanistan has proved to be a quagmire, whether for the British, Russians or Americans. While it seems that the US exit leaves a power vacuum eagerly filled by regional challengers, Afghanistan’s unique set of attributes seems to be running strategic stakeholders ragged. In the event, the Afghan exception could offer lessons for constraining rivals in other spheres such as the Taiwan Strait.
A view shows a burning police car during a protest against LPG cost rise following the Kazakh authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5 January 2022. (Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters)

US, Russia and China using Kazakhstan unrest as a proxy

China and Russia have been quick to point to external hands, namely the US’s, in stoking recent unrest in Kazakhstan. But the main issue is not so much what precipitated the unrest, but how it has been expedient for major players US, Russia and China to capitalise on it for geopolitical gain. Zhang Chi analyses the situation.
In this picture taken on 13 November 2021, Taliban fighters stop next to destroyed armoured vehicles displayed along a road in Ghazni, Afghanistan. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

China and Russia compete for influence in Central Asia

China-Russia rivalry in the Central Asian region is intensifying, with the US's departure from Afghanistan and the two countries seeking to fill the power vacuum by working within their Central Asian spheres of dominance. Can the two powers work together to foster greater regional stability or will they let their competitiveness get the better of them?