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Twitter Spaces: A Talk About How The Taliban Takeover Changes China's Central Asia Strategy

Tajik and Chinese troops take part in joint exercises in southern Tajikistan, near the border with Afghanistan. (file photo)
Tajik and Chinese troops take part in joint exercises in southern Tajikistan, near the border with Afghanistan. (file photo)

What does Beijing want in Afghanistan?

Since the Taliban’s August takeover of the country, Beijing’s attention has increasingly turned toward Afghanistan and its neighbors in Central and South Asia.

The situation is not just a foreign policy conundrum for China -- which has a 76-kilometer border with Afghanistan -- but it's also linked to Beijing’s domestic concerns, particularly fears of terrorism in its western Xinjiang province. Chinese policymakers hope that the region can act as a buffer against extremism spreading to Xinjiang -- where the Chinese government has imprisoned more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities in internment camps.

Motivated by these fears and more, China has set up a secret military outpost in Tajikistan along the Afghan border -- which was the subject of a recent report by RFE/RL -- where Beijing has increasingly turned its attention to counterterrorism.

As things continue to change quickly in Afghanistan, China is now left navigating a complicated relationship with the Taliban and adapting to a new reality across Central Asia.

Unpacking all this and more was the subject of a live Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by RFE/RL on October 21 with Sirojiddin Tolibov, managing editor at Radio Free Europe’s Tajik Service; Niva Yau, a Bishkek-based researcher from the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the OSCE academy; and Raffaello Pantucci, a senior associate fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute. The talk was hosted by RFE/RL China correspondent Reid Standish.

Twitter Spaces: How the Taliban's Takeover Changes China's Central Asia Strategy
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    Reid Standish

    Reid Standish is an RFE/RL correspondent in Prague and author of the China In Eurasia briefing. He focuses on Chinese foreign policy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and has reported extensively about China's Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing’s internment camps in Xinjiang. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Reid was an editor at Foreign Policy magazine and its Moscow correspondent. He has also written for The Atlantic and The Washington Post.

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China In Eurasia
Reid Standish

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