China's extraordinary rebuke to US, Australia as it eyes Afghanistan 'prize'

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

China has hit out at the US, Australia and the UK, accusing allied troops of human rights abuses in Afghanistan in the wake of the ugly withdrawal of Western forces from the country. 

The US, along with Australia, the UK and New Zealand have been working to evacuate both ex-pats and Afghan visa holders desperate to escape the barbaric rule of the Taliban that now awaits the country. 

As reports of Taliban violations, including executions, continue to be published, the United Nations Human Rights Council held an emergency session overnight.

But a Chinese envoy was keen to shift the focus on misdeeds of Australia and its allies. 

China's ambassador Chen Xu (left) has used a UN emergency meeting about Taliban atrocities to criticise allied troops. Source: AAP
China's ambassador Chen Xu (left) has used a UN emergency meeting about Taliban atrocities to criticise allied troops. Source: AAP

"The US, UK, Australia and other countries must be held accountable for the violation of human rights committed by their military in Afghanistan and the evolution of this current session should cover this issue," China's ambassador Chen Xu told the council. 

"Under the banner of democracy and human rights the US and other countries carry out military interventions in other sovereign states and impose their own model on countries with vastly different history and culture," he said, saying this brought "great suffering". 

Amnesty International has previously said that thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces, of which few have been brought to justice. The US Department of Defense has previously defended its efforts to avoid casualties.

China has also been publicly critical of alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan in the wake of the damning Brereton Report.

China offers olive branch to Taliban, eyes country's resources

China, which met with Taliban leaders as the extremist group advanced across the country to ultimately take over the capital Kabul, is seen to be holding out an olive branch to the Taliban. 

"We will continue developing a good neighbourly, friendly and cooperative relationship with Afghanistan and continue our constructive role in its process of peace and reconstruction," Chen added in his speech.

China and Russia have great interest in Afghanistan, which has vast deposits of valuable rare earth minerals.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo as the Taliban forces swept the nation. Source: AAP
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo as the Taliban forces swept the nation. Source: AAP

Afghanistan is sitting on deposits estimated to be worth US$1 trillion ($1.38 trillion), Bloomberg reports. The country has vast supplies of iron ore, copper and gold and is believed to be home to one of the world's largest deposits of lithium in the world.

Zhou Bo, who was a senior colonel in China's People’s Liberation Army from 2003 to 2020, laid it all out in a "guest essay" published in The New York Times over the weekend. 

"With the US withdrawal, Beijing can offer what Kabul needs most: political impartiality and economic investment," he wrote. 

"Afghanistan in turn has what China most prizes: opportunities in infrastructure and industry building — areas in which China’s capabilities are arguably unmatched — and access to $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits."

As the West leaves, China is already moving in. 

Hanif Sufizada, from Nebraska University's Centre for Afghanistan Studies, says China's relationship with the Middle Eastern country "will be very mercantilistic". 

That includes the extraction of rare earth minerals to help power China's burgeoning tech industry, he told ABC radio on Wednesday. 

"They already had a copper contract in Afghanistan which was terminated, but they could easily get it now," he said. 

with Reuters

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