The Afghanistan Debacle Is a Dagger Aimed at Overseas Chinese

August 17, 2021 Updated: August 17, 2021


The world is focused on the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan. That is, a disaster for American foreign policy and alliances, but a boon to U.S. adversaries, particularly the Chinese communist regime.

What must it feel like to be a senior Taliban terrorist who has defeated the “Great Satan” after two decades of fighting in the Afghan mountains and valleys? Ask a few geriatric veterans of the North Vietnamese Army or the handful of Vietcong who survived the 1968 Tet Offensive. They know that feeling, too. Black April for the South Vietnamese (i.e., the month in 1975 in which they lost their country to the communists) is a direct parallel with Black August in Afghanistan.

And what must the Afghans who have been fighting the Taliban over the last 20 years be thinking? What are their emotions? What will happen to those erstwhile allies of the United States and NATO over the next weeks and months? The coming horrors are easy to imagine, and the pictures and videos of Afghans frantically trying to escape on aircraft leaving Kabul International Airport are clear indications they know exactly what to expect from the Taliban.

But these emotions of the victors and the vanquished are not important; what really matters are the cataclysmic geopolitical results from this debacle. While the long-term impacts can only be predicted, there are obvious short-term disasters-in-the-making:

  • The Taliban are empowered by their victory on every level: militarily (billions of dollars in abandoned U.S. equipment), economically (control of the country’s vast mineral wealth and poppy fields), and spiritually (vindication of their beliefs in casting out the foreign “invader”). Will they limit their reprisals and other actions to those within Afghanistan’s borders? Or will a few Taliban cross the wide-open U.S.-Mexico border to conduct terror attacks in the United States?
  • Bailing out on an ally undermines relations with allies in the region—and around the world, for that matter. What message does the debacle send to Iraq, India, the Gulf Cooperation Council states, the “Stans” in Central Asia, and other countries? Is the United States now considered more or less trustworthy in honoring its agreements and commitments?
  • The relocation of tens of thousands of Afghan nationals in the United States will be a costly endeavor, with their assimilation into the American way of life by no means guaranteed. How many Taliban or other extremists will also be relocated with those refugees?
  • In preparing to recognize the new Taliban regime, communist China will have unfettered access to the mineral wealth of Afghanistan, estimated at over $1 trillion in value. “The deposits are mainly copper but also include gold, iron ore, uranium, and precious stones, such as emeralds.” Communist China already controls the production of 97 percent of rare earth elements. Control of Afghanistan’s resources will provide the ChiComs with an additional stranglehold on natural resources needed for the production of “high-tech consumer products, such as cellular telephones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and flat-screen monitors and televisions.”
Taliban terrorists stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

The above are obvious results of the collapse in Afghanistan. A much more ominous outcome is being enabled by this disaster: the consolidation of near-abroad overseas Chinese into “Greater China.” Here is a polite definition for Greater China:

Greater China, or Greater China Region, is a term used to refer to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. As a “phrase of the moment,” the precise meaning is not entirely clear, and people may use it for only the commercial ties, only the cultural actions, or even as a euphemism for the two Chinas, while others may use it for some combination of the three. The term Greater China is generally used for referring to the cultural and economic ties between the relevant territories, and is not intended to imply sovereignty.

The ChiCom definition is decidedly different and specifically extends to the political realm: any and all overseas Chinese outside China are considered part of “Greater China” and are thereby subject to ChiCom laws and regulations regardless of their nationality. Greater China is a dream of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—to consolidate all Chinese under one totalitarian regime regardless of their country of residence under the extraterritorial authority of article 38 of the new national security law passed by the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature on June 30, 2020 and also China’s civil code as adopted on May 28, 2020. The national security law criminalizes any activities by anyone anywhere on earth deemed by the CCP to be a threat to “national security” (undefined in the law itself) while the civil code micromanages Chinese society—economic, social, travel, education, etc.—and mandates compliance by all Chinese citizens (including overseas Chinese in the future).

It is no secret that Red China has returned to Chinese expansionism since taking power in 1949. First, the Tibetans have been brutally pacified and absorbed, and the Dalai Lama’s cultural and religious influences harshly suppressed (but not eradicated). Chinese genocide against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang is ongoing. Hong Kong has been swallowed whole, with the national security law and the civil code being given a “road test” there prior to their application elsewhere.

With the national security law and civil code comes the ability to politically influence events and policies in countries that have a significant minority population of Chinese. Several neighboring countries have large Chinese populations ripe for control/influence by Beijing, and these are the immediate targets for absorption into Greater China:

  • Singapore: 76 percent of the population are Chinese (2.7 million)
  • Thailand: the largest group of overseas Chinese and the largest minority group at 14 percent of the population (10 million)
  • Malaysia: largest minority group at 23 percent of the population (6.6 million)
  • Brunei: largest minority group at 10 percent of the population (42,000)
  • New Zealand: the largest ethnic minority at 231,000 (five percent of the population)

But these countries are tidbits compared to the big egg roll: Taiwan. ChiCom animus against the descendants of the Gen. Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang and others who fled the mainland to escape the Communists in 1949 has been relentless. That animosity carried over into the recently completed Olympics, as Taiwan beat China for the badminton gold medal, as noted here. One wonders what retribution the ChiComs will seek if/when they are successful in “absorbing” Taiwan into their vision of Greater China!

This brings the discussion back to the Afghanistan debacle. What must the Taiwan government (and those smaller governments listed above) be thinking as they watched the United States bail out on their Afghan allies? Is their trust that the United States will come to their aid in the event of a ChiCom cross-strait invasion as firm as it was two weeks ago? Because it is clear that the ChiComs are gleefully pushing the psychological advantage gained in Afghanistan by continuing to pressure Taiwan. Here is an agitprop by ChiCom state-run media, in this instance from the Global Times:

“Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere. A military intervention of the US will be a move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, and this will make Washington pay a huge price rather than earn profit.

“Some people on the island of Taiwan hype that the island is different from Afghanistan, and that the US wouldn’t leave them alone. Indeed, the island is different from Afghanistan. But the difference is the deeper hopelessness of a US victory if it gets itself involved in a cross-Straits war. Such a war would mean unthinkable costs for the US, in front of which the so-called special importance of Taiwan is nothing but wishful thinking of the DPP authorities and secessionist forces on the island.”

A cynical person might conclude that what is unfolding in Afghanistan amounts to the ChiComs collecting on their investments (briberies) over the years among the U.S. political class, especially the Biden family. The events over the last week almost seem to be scripted: the United States abandons billions of dollars of equipment to the Taliban (arming them for who knows what), the Afghan army is left without any U.S. support and collapses, the Taliban marches through the country like a knife through butter, the Biden Defense and State Departments are caught flat-footed in a chaotic extraction of U.S. forces and Afghan civilians from Kabul Airport (ongoing), and the ChiComs ultimately gain control of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. And the ChiComs were certainly quick to turn the U.S. bailout into a political advantage by increasing psychological and political pressure on Taiwan, their main strategic objective in consolidating Greater China. It sure seems like a ChiCom strategic plan succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.