The US withdrawal that left the Taliban in control of Afghanistan has created a security dilemma for China. Beijing considers its Uyghur population to be a terror threat, and it believes the Taliban are allowing the group to use Afghanistan as a refuge from which to plan attacks and transit into Central Asian neighbors. This article analyzes both the historical record and recent moves by China to explain Beijing's strategy of engaging with the Taliban and developing the Afghan economy. The study indicates that the approach has some potential benefits if, as the Chinese assume, economic growth yields stability, good governance, and a cohesive state that can combat terror groups. However, the article demonstrates that Afghan history, the Taliban's ideology, and the vicious circle of instability, economic stagnation, and further chaos are likely to subvert China's goals.
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