China sees an opportunity in and is tempted by the space vacated by the withdrawal of US troops and the takeover of the Taliban with whom it has cultivated relations over years, to step into Afghanistan economically and strategically. At the same time, in the short term, it is also anxious to crush any trouble from the ETIM in the Af-Pak area. China has also been pursuing strategic connectivity and infrastructure projects in Central and Western Asia as a way to relieve pressure from the US and Quad in the Indo-Pacific. In light of the recent political turmoil in Afghanistan, this panel discussion will examine the factors that will condition Beijing’s relations with the Taliban and its interim government; the likely trajectory of Chinese policy on Afghanistan in the near-term and long-term; and how Afghanistan sits in broader strategic competition between China and the US. It will also explore the dynamics and challenges facing China in meeting its objectives, as well as the evolving China-Pakistan relationship in Afghanistan.
Gautam Mukhopadhaya is currently Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He has served in the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence of India, and as India’s Ambassador to Syria, Afghanistan, where he also re-opened the Indian Embassy in Kabul as Cd’A after the ouster of the Taliban in November 2001, and Myanmar respectively, from 2005-2016. He has also graduated from the National Defence College of India and worked on Afghanistan as a Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC.
Andrew Small is Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and an associate senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia's New Geopolitics.
Suhasini Haidar is the Diplomatic Editor of The Hindu, and has contributed to several books on Indian Foreign Policy and South Asia. Previously she worked as Foreign Editor at CNN-IBN and correspondent at CNN International.
Ashok K. Kantha has been the Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies since 2017. A career diplomat, Kantha was Ambassador of India to China until January 2016. Prior to this, he was Secretary (East) at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, with responsibility for about 65 countries in India’s extended neighbourhood. His previous assignments include High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Malaysia, Consul General in Hong Kong, Deputy Chief of Mission in Kathmandu (Nepal), and Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs. Earlier, Kantha served in different capacities at Indian Missions in Singapore, China and the USA, and at headquarters in New Delhi. In his diplomatic career spanning over 38 years, Kantha specialized in Asian affairs, with a particular focus on China.
Peter Rimmele is currently the Resident Representative of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office, India. He has a First Law Degree from Freiburg University, as well as a Second Law Degree from the Ministry of Justice Baden-Württemberg, Germany and a M.A. in Geography. After working as a jurist, judge and lecturer, he took public office as Ministerialrat, Head of Division at the State Ministry of the Interior in Saxony, Germany, from November 1991 on until 2000. There he first served in the Police and Security and later in the Local Government Department. On behalf of the German Foreign Ministry, he served in East Timor as Registrar General, Head of Civil Registry and Notary Services (UNTAET), and became later the principal Advisor for Governance Reform for GIZ (German International Cooperation) to the Ministry of Administrative Reform and the Anti-Corruption-Commission of the Republic of Indonesia, where he served for 7 years. He then moved to Rwanda, also as Principal Advisor Good Governance/Justice Program. Earlier he was Resident Representative Lebanon, Director of Rule of Law Program Middle East North Africa, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
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