GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
There is a widespread view that China will benefit from the damage done to the world image of the US as a result of Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Certainly, the US has suffered a Bad Press as scenes of desperation at Kabul Airport with refugees falling from the sky after vainly clutching hold of military plane parts at take-off. And there is still a long way to go before Kabul yields to other media headlines in the world press.
But there is a “but”. Will the new Taliban government in Kabul ensure that Afghanistan does not become a hotbed for terrorist forces that continue to threaten China. As James Kynge comments in today’s FT, chief among such concerns are groups like ETIM – the East Turkestan Islamic Movement which is composed of Uyghur fighters opposed to China in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the location of hostilities and terrorism in recent years.
ETIM was estimated by the UN Security Council to number approximately 3,500 fighters. The UN and the US designated ETIM as terrorists in 2002 but in 2020 the US, significantly, dropped its classification. Why? Was the reason to legitimise ETIM renewed activity in Xinjiang? Can China expect more trouble within its borders, and not less, as the US departs the region. Has ETIM been given the green light to attack China and stir Uyghur Separatism?
It is back to the core issue re China. Does the US co-operate with China or confront China? Xinjiang and the role of ETIM will receive renewed focus – in Beijing as well as Washington.