This report provides an overview and analysis of the vigorous debate over Afghanistan in Chinese foreign policy circles. Beijing does not want permanent U.S. or NATO bases on China’s western frontiers. However, it fears NATO will withdraw prematurely from Afghanistan, leaving China to address the regional repercussions of Afghan instability. The Chinese also do not want to assume the main burden of supporting Pakistan, even as Beijing is unwilling to provide much support to the NATO mission.
China is struggling to avert bad policy outcomes in Afghanistan without compromising long-held foreign policy principles. As this report reveals, thus far those struggles have not led to a clear decision about China’s interests and the resulting steps to secure them.