China's territorial disputes threaten global peace, commerce

By Salaam Times and AFP

Pakistani traders are shown in the Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, October 12, 2017. The corridor leads to the Afghan-Chinese border. China has shown great interest in exploiting Afghanistan's mineral riches. [Gohar Abbas/AFP]

Pakistani traders are shown in the Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, October 12, 2017. The corridor leads to the Afghan-Chinese border. China has shown great interest in exploiting Afghanistan's mineral riches. [Gohar Abbas/AFP]

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Beijing's increasing sabre-rattling and its territorial disputes with its neighbours threaten global peace and risk choking the world's busiest shipping lanes with global economic repercussions, analysts warn.

Afghanistan has its own potential grounds for concern with China, since Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, and Xinjiang region, China, share a 76km-long border.

A few years ago, China built a military base in Tajikistan just a few miles from the Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, a move that many see as the beginning of Beijing's encroachment into Afghanistan, which is key to China's security and continental ambitions. China covets Afghan mines, including the Mes Aynak copper lode in Logar province.

Drills off Taiwanese coast in August

China's military drills last month off Taiwan are the most recent reminder of the threat that Beijing's military expansionism poses.

Demonstrators protest China's claims on the disputed South China Sea, outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, last December 8. [Dasril Roszandi/AFP]

Demonstrators protest China's claims on the disputed South China Sea, outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, last December 8. [Dasril Roszandi/AFP]

Taiwanese naval personnel walk in front of a frigate as President Tsai Ing-wen (not pictured) inspects troops on the Penghu islands on August 30. [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Taiwanese naval personnel walk in front of a frigate as President Tsai Ing-wen (not pictured) inspects troops on the Penghu islands on August 30. [Sam Yeh/AFP]

Taiwan has had its own government since 1949 but lives under the constant threat of invasion by China. Beijing views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it -- by force if necessary.

After top US government officials visited Taiwan on August 2, China retaliated by deploying warplanes, ships and missiles for drills.

Over five days, from August 2-6, Chinese military aircraft entered what Taiwan calls its Air Defence Identification Zone or crossed the Taiwan Strait median line at least 131 times, Taiwan's military reported.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) fired ballistic missiles into the waters off Taiwan, including four that flew high over the island itself, according to Japan. It also conducted exercises closer to the island than ever before.

The goal of the exercises was more to demonstrate to Taiwan and the international community China's ability to surround and potentially blockade its island neighbour.

"This is political warfare," Drew Thompson, a senior fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore who formerly worked in the Pentagon, told The New York Times on August 25.

Clogging shipping lanes

China's military exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan affected global shipping lanes.

The Taiwan Strait, a 180km-wide waterway separating Taiwan from mainland China and the rest of Asia, is a main ocean route for commercial vessels sailing to or from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

The shipping routes carry goods from Asian factory hubs to markets in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

Last year, almost half of the global container fleet and 88% of the world's largest ships by tonnage crossed the waterway, according to Bloomberg.

'String of Pearls'

The recent drills bode ill for other key waterways in which China either has active disputes or where it is expanding its military presence.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In Central Asia, Beijing has in recent years been floating the idea of the return of "its" territories in its media to gauge the reaction of the local population in what observers say is a direct threat to the region's sovereignty.

Beijing has also been pushing a massive infrastructure drive to connect mainland China to the Horn of Africa via a network of military and commercial facilities.

As part of its "String of Pearls" strategy, China's sea lines run through several major ports from the Maldives to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Somalia.

They run through several major maritime choke points including the Bab al-Mandeb Strait (between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa), the Strait of Malacca (the main shipping channel between the Indian and Pacific oceans), the Strait of Hormuz (which separates Iran from Oman and the United Arab Emirates) and the Lombok Strait (between the islands of Bali and Indonesia).

Beijing's global infrastructure drive, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), continues inland from these important seaports, reaching other parts of the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

However, critics warn that China's ostensibly commercial projects serve a dual purpose, allowing for its rapidly growing military to expand its reach.

The String of Pearls also gives Beijing an advantage and a pressure lever should a full-scale conflict erupt over Taiwan.

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Second, America is trying to destabilize China's Xinjiang region by using terrorist groups to hinder success of China's Belt and Road transit projects in the Central Asia. For the Chinese, construction of the transit highway of the Wakhan Corridor and the significant increase in traffic will facilitate the access of terrorist groups to the Xinjiang state of China and will provide many problems and security for the Chinese. Third, recently, the Chinese have agreed with Pakistan and Afghanistan to connect Afghanistan to the CPEC project or the Karakorum highway by building a suitable transit highway from Peshawar to Kabul. With the completion of this project, there will be no need for the Wakhan Corridor highway as far as the Chinese are concerned. The map below shows the existing highways and the expected highways that connect the Wakhan Corridor with the neighboring countries. Dr. Noor Ahmad Khalidi


(((4))) Obstacles on the way to the construction of the Wakhan corridor transit highway During the two years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, interest in the construction of the Wakhan Corridor transit highway has increased in Afghanistan. Right now, construction of 49 kilometers of Khama Chughla road in the Wakhan Corridor is underway by the Taliban. Media reports show that until now, Amir Khan Motaqi, acting foreign minister of Taliban, has proposed to the Chinese foreign minister the construction of the Wakhan Corridor transit highway project two times. Unfortunately, so far, the Chinese have not given a favorable answer in this case. The disinterest of the Chinese in the construction of this project is from three points of view: First, the construction of the Wakhan Corridor transit highway in the mountainous and very cold area covered with snow for 9 months requires the construction of several tunnels, which on one hand makes its construction costs very expensive, and on the other hand, its protection and maintenance costs will also be extremely heavy. It is estimated that only 350 km of this highway from the Chinese border to Ashkashim will cost $4 billion. For comparison, consider Afghanistan's problems in keeping open the Salang highway between Ahangaran and Khanjan, which is no more than 30 kilometers and 2000 meters high, in the winter months. Now, let's compare this with the 350 km proposed highway of Wakhan Corridor at an altitude of 4000 meters, which will be cover


(((3))) Construction of the Wakhan Corridor highway and the Wakhan Corridor railway and its connection to the Karakoram highway, which passes one hundred kilometers east of Kotal-e-Vakhjir on the China-Afghanistan border, will enable Afghanistan to reach and connect to the city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang province of China without passing through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Also, a branch of the Wakhan Corridor Highway can cross the border with Tajikistan through Kotel-e-Harbin and be connected to the Pamir Highway that connects Tajikistan with Kyrgyzstan and provide Afghanistan's transit connection with Kyrgyzstan. For Pakistan, connecting to the countries of Central Asia through Wakhan is of great strategic importance. With the construction of the Wakhan Corridor highway and the Wakhan Corridor railway in Afghanistan and connecting it to the Karakoram highway, Pakistan will be able to cross the Wakhan border to the highway and railway through the construction of the 250 km Chitral-Morich-Kotel Kech highway which will let Pakistan to get connected with the Central Asia through the Wakhan Corridor. At the same time, India is currently in the process of constructing a 2,000-kilometer Ladakh highway in northern Kashmir, which is scheduled to be completed in 2026. If the political conditions of India and Pakistan allow, the connection of this highway with the Wakhan Corridor will connect the entire Indian subcontinent to Central Asia. This way, it is possible to make W


(((2))) After the occupation of the territories of Abdali empire in Kashmir and Chitral by Ranjit Singh and subsequently by the British, and in the uproar of Great Britain's great colonial game with Tsarist Russia at the end of the 19th century, with the imposition of the Durand Line and arbitration in determining the northern borders of Afghanistan and its continuation in Wakhan until border of China, the British succeeded in creating the Wakhan Corridor belonging to Afghanistan, a buffer zone between British India and the Central Asian territories of Tsarist Russia. Importance of Wakhan Corridor for Afghanistan and neighboring countries The Wakhan Corridor directly connects Afghanistan to the Peoples' Republic of China. Today, China is the second economic-industrial power in the world, and with the current speed of development, it will soon surpass America and become the first economic power in the world. To use in its industries, China needs huge resources of minerals, oil and gas, and to feed its population of 1.4 billion, it needs agricultural products, and Afghanistan can use its important strategic position as a supplier of these materials in China's neighborhood. Proposed Wakhan Corridor Highway This highway is 495 kilometers from the city of Faizabad in Badakhshan to the border of China in Kotel-e-Vakhjir and 100 kilometers from Kotel-e-Vakhjir to the Karakorum highway in Xinjiang province of China. Therefore, the Wakhan Corridor Highway from Faiz Abad to the Kara


Wakhan or Pamir Corridor located in the northeast of Afghanistan is one of the districts of Badakhshan province, the center of which is Khandod village. Tajikistan is located in the north of this region, Pakistan is in the south, and China is in the east. Its length is 350 km from Ashkashim to the Chinese border, its width is 18 km near Ashkashim, 60 kilometers in the east of the common border with China, and 70 km in the middle from Qara Boluk on the border of Tajikistan to the Broghil border on the border with Gilgit-Baltistan occupied by Pakistan in Kashmir. With a total area of 14,000 square km, Wakhan is known as the roof of the world because its average height is 4,000 meters above the sea level. Kotel-e-Khanjir on the border with China is 4900 meters high and the height near Ashkashim is 3300 meters. That is, the slope of these valleys is from east to west, and its rivers, including the Pamir river, flow into the Panj river in Ashkashem, which finally joins the Amu river. All four sides of this corridor are surrounded by the towering mountains of Pamir in the north, Tian Shan in the east, Karakorum in the south and Hindu Kush in the west. For this reason, Wakhan Corridor is passable through a rocky road only in three months of summer, and in the remaining nine months it is covered with snow and with an average temperature of -30 degrees Celsius, it is very cold. History: Historically, the Wakhan Corridor was considered one of the southern branches of the Silk Road, whi


There is no doubt that China may have eyes on Afghanistan's mines; still, I am not sure if China has any notion of invading Afghanistan. China knows that it is not easy to invade Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is not like Tajikistan or other countries that could be ruled by force. However, I think China will be able to plunder Afghanistan's mines and wealth with deception and trickery. China's policy is to use cunning and lure instead of using force. China is a two-faced and hypocritical country same as Pakistan. If you notice, this country has bankrupted many countries in Africa and Asia and forced them to follow its policies. Furthermore, it has done this not by force but by hypocrisy and deception. It should also be noted that China's military power is not so great that it can invade a country. If China had that self-confidence military-wise, it would have already attacked and occupied Taiwan. China understands it is not that strong, and any attack on Taiwan's territory will lead to defeat.


With its immerging since the year 2000, China has caused the world to face various challenges. China has a secret military program, and this country has never tended to provide accurate information about its military power. China has tried to follow war and hostility instead of compromising far from the beginning of the installation of the communist government. China attacked India as a result of the border dispute. Now it threatens Taiwan and may attack it soon. It has border conflict with Japan and its other neighbors, and these countries are constantly afraid of being attacked by this country. In contrast to its previous commitments, China has intervened in Taiwan and weakened its democracy. This country is trying to make the developing countries depend on it and make the wealthy countries dependent on its commercial goods. The world's superpowers, especially the United States and Europe, should prevent their economic dependency on the Chinese market and not let Xi Jinping take advantage of the economic dependency of Western countries, like Putin, who cut off the gas supply to Europe and put pressure on it.