I was talking with someone who just began living in China a couple weeks ago today and told him that while in Western China last year, I was near the border of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and a bunch of other -stans. He had no idea that China shared borders with all of these countries.
Is Beijing, which is famously allergic to intervention, about to get involved in Afghanistan? It sounds crazy, yet there are intriguing signs. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently floated the notion at a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, calling it a "possibility for the future."
Chinese Foreign Ministry official Qin Gang quickly rebuffed the notion last week, saying that except for United Nations' peacekeeping operations, "China never sends troops abroad," and that "media reports about China sending troops to participate in Afghanistan are groundless."Yet the idea of greater Chinese involvement is not as outlandish as it might seem.
Honestly, before I came to China, I didn't either.
In fact, western China is right smack in the dab of Central Asia.
There's no doubt that chaos amongst China's neighbors has to be discomforting.
While China certainly won't be as brazen as America's been in the region, behind-the-scenes support from the Chinese, as this article suggests, would seem reasonable to me.