The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan has left a lasting impact on both Afghanistan’s future and on Asian geopolitics. It has also brought China into focus. "The Comrades and the Mullahs" traces the emergence of China as a key player in Afghanistan and the evolution of China’s Afghan policy especially with respect to its relations with the Taliban. Beijing's dominant role in Afghanistan’s future is a potentially game-changing development in Asian geopolitics, even if questions remain about the former's appetite to step in to fill the void and the limits of its ambitions. In this talk, the authors Ananth Krishnan and Stanly Johny will discuss the book, the situation in Afghanistan, what Beijing’s interests are and the drivers of its foreign policy. How is China's new Silk Road project—the Belt and Road Initiative—shaping China–Afghan relations? How is China's approach to groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement leading to an increasingly securitized approach to its western regions and beyond? How has China’s Afghan engagement deepened its ‘all- weather’ alliance with Pakistan, and what is the impact for India?
About the Speakers
Ananth Krishnan is the China correspondent for The Hindu. In 2019, he was a Visiting Fellow at Brookings India. He was previously the Beijing-based Associate Editor at the India Today Group until August 2018. He has lived in Beijing since 2009, earlier reporting for The Hindu. His reporting in China has taken him to all but three of China’s 33 provinces and regions. His interests include India-China relations as well as Tibet, Xinjiang and ethnic minorities in China. Before moving to China, Ananth was based at The Hindu’s headquarters in Chennai. He has authored a book titled, India’s China Challenge (HarperCollins, 2020).
Stanly Johny is the International Affairs Editor with The Hindu. A PhD in international studies from the Centre for West Asian Studies, JNU, he has been writing on international affairs and Indian foreign policy in The Hindu group publications for nearly a decade. An IVLP fellow of the U.S. State Department and an India-Australia Youth Dialogue alumnus, he has also contributed to think-tanks such as the Middle East Institute in Washington DC and the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. He is the author of The ISIS Caliphate: From Syria to the Doorsteps of India (2018).
About the Discussant
Andrew Small is a senior transatlantic fellow with GMF's Asia Program, which he established in 2006. His research focuses on U.S.–China relations, Europe–China relations, Chinese policy in South Asia, and broader developments in China's foreign and economic policy. He was based in GMF’s Brussels office for five years, and worked before that as the director of the Foreign Policy Centre's Beijing office, as a visiting fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and an ESU scholar in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
About the Chair
Vijay Nambiar, born in Pune (1943), studied at St Xavier's College Mumbai. He was awarded the Chancellor's gold medal for his Masters in 1965. Joining India's Foreign Service in 1967 he was Ambassador/High Commissioner in Algiers (1985-88), Afghanistan (1990-92), Malaysia (1993-96), China (1996-2000) and Pakistan (2000-01) He was also Permanent Representative at India's UN Mission in New York (2002-2004). After retirement in 2004, he served as Deputy National Security Adviser until 2006 when he was seconded to the UN as Special Adviser to UNSG Kofi Annan. He served at the UN from 2006 to 2016 as Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, as Chef de Cabinet to UNSG Ban Ki Moon and later as his Adviser on Myanmar.
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