October 26, 2001

China's Afghan Agenda

One thing I've learned here is to trust absolutely no one and to not believe anything anyone tells me. I have friends here with whom I often go out and drink. These friends of mine never tell anyone their real name. I don't know their real names. When I ask why, they reply that telling someone one's true name gives that person enormous power.

Conversations become chess games in China with every bit of information and misinformation used to gain some sort of advantage or benefit or connection. China's economy is growing and everybody wants a piece of the pie and in this country where caprice and money are the rules of law, politicking (i.e. lying and cheating) becomes an art form.

By definition, the government is the most skilled liar and most adept cheat in town. The Chinese government has recently been accused of having contacts with the Taliban as well as having paid $10 million for dud Cruise missiles that landed in Afghanistan in 1998. Of course, the government denies it all. But they also deny selling any weapons to Pakistan. And the government also denies any knowledge of the fiber-optic lines built for Baghdad and Kabul by Chinese firms.

The problem is not selling weapons. America does its share of selling (to apartheid South Africa back in the day, for example) but the point is that anything the Chinese government says should be treated as a lie until proven otherwise. Actually, I give this advice to anyone with the misfortune of living under any government....

A recent Chinese News Service article gives an in-depth description of Osama being betrayed and murdered by his own men. Now how would Chinese journalists have access to such information if they have "no contact" with the Taliban? The story is probably untrue, as the traitors would have most definitely presented his body by now (unless there is even more conspiracy and treachery underfoot), but the report flies in the face of Foreign Ministry denials of any contact with the Taliban.

Pakistan was tight with the Taliban up until 9/11 and China is an important ally of Pakistan. With the intelligence that Pakistan has to offer as well as their religious affinity with the Taliban, it seems plausible that China could have used this connection to secure its Western border from incursions. Perhaps a fiberoptic line for a promise?

And the SCO involves Central Asian states with a vested interest in Afghanistan, specifically in the Northern Alliance. If the SCO is mostly about anti-terrorist measures and border security, wouldn't it make sense to focus on the biggest trouble spot in Central Asia, Afghanistan? I find it really hard to believe that China would not engage Afghanistan. We only have China's word for it that talks earlier this year amounted to nothing. And even if they did stall on China using its UN membership to help the Taliban, what was accomplished during the meeting?

Up until 9/11, China had no reason to support the USA in anything it did. Spy planes and weapons sales to Taiwan and big talk from Little Bush provided students with more than enough to yammer about while out buying a thicker pair of glasses. Chatrooms across the country were filled with nationalistic posturing with America as the enemy. In a recent column for the Taipei Times, former 1989 Tiananmen leader Wang Dan lamented his countrymen's gleeful response to the 9/11 tragedy. The Taliban was no friend of the US either. Makes sense that they discussed a few things prior to the globe-altering event last month.

People think I don't understand them when I walk by and they yap about how America is out beating a child down, about how America loves to use its weapons because it has too many. Of course, just as many tell me that Afghanistan should be attacked and that terrorism is evil. But that is only after I tell them I am American. Lately, I follow my friends' advice and lie. I am ethnically Turkish, so I am not really lying, but the responses are much different when they think I am also Muslim: now America is our mutual enemy and the bad guy.

Now, personally, I agree with the Chongqing Daily's assessment of the war in Afghanistan: an adult beating a child. And yes, America's foreign policy is much to blame for others hating us enough to fly planes into buildings, but the point of this column is to show that in Powell's rush to build a "broad coalition against terrorism" recent history (as well as ancient history) is being conveniently forgotten. How many real friends can one make with threats of "with us or against us?"

Chinese still have no love for the U.S. Government, even if they dream about coming to America to make money. Pakistanis and Afghans would probably like to make big money in America too, but does that mean that they're willing to sell out their own blood and nation to do it? Even a scoundrel of a Chinese businessman knows not to mix business with blood.

China and Russia are both jumping to help America beat the Taliban down, but if anyone really believes that they will allow America to slip into Central Asia and take control of military bases, oilfields and governments without a single peep, then that person is seriously deluded.

For years, the big powers have been proposing this or that pipeline route, while propping up this or that dictatorship, and eradicating this or that insurgency; all that effort, blood and money will have gone to waste if America is allowed to fortify Central Asia.

With the nationalism that is growing daily here and the riches, both potential and realized, that are at stake in Central Asia (weapons, gas, oil, construction, etc.) it doesn't take a genius to guess that behind China's cautious statements concerning the new war lies a hidden agenda.

I'll let ya know when Jiang calls me with the details.

Text-only printable version of this article

Sascha Matuszak is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily, and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column appears Fridays.

Archived columns

China's Afghan Agenda

New War May Reveal New Superpower, Part II

New War May Reveal New Superpower

A Chance for a New Friendship?

Watching the Disaster

Cheating as a Way of Life

China's Internet Generation

China's Expansionism

Free Markets or Supermarkets


Too Much Face

Olympic Pie

Culture of Pollution

Sailing Towards World Significance

China's Youth Revolution

China on the Road to Capitalism

An American in China

On the Street in China: A Report

Please Support Antiwar.com

Send contributions to

520 South Murphy Avenue, Suite #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your contributions are now tax-deductible

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us