With the rise of the Taliban and chaos in Afghanistan following a hasty US withdrawal, Chinese state-run media scores propaganda points against the United States while praising China. Newspapers like XinhuaNet, China Daily and Global Times throw shade at American state-building efforts as well as the future of America’s alliances while promoting CCP-led solutions and coalitions.
Claim 1: The United States Was Afghanistan’s Main Problem
Chinese media generally portrays the United States, not the Taliban, as the root of Afghanistan’s problems. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that the United States was responsible for killing “tens of thousands” of Afghans and making “tens of millions” of refugees and that the US should use its withdrawal from Afghanistan “to reflect on its role in the Afghan issue and consider how to fulfill its due obligations for the reconciliation and reconstruction of Afghanistan,” according to XinhuaNet.
Much of the CCP’s propaganda efforts focus on questioning the wisdom of the United States’ state-building efforts. Foreign Minister Wang said that the U.S.’ attempt at a “democratic transformation” was unrealistic and resulted in “hurtful consequences,” according to another XinhuaNet article. Wang also lectured Secretary of State Blinken that “transplanting a foreign model on a country with utterly different national conditions won’t work, and that trying to use force and military means to resolve problems will just increase them,” according to China Daily. Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, stated that “[b]ehind the developments in Afghanistan is the U.S.’ deep-seated security and foreign policy mistake, which is its longstanding preference to impose its will and intervene in other nations,” according to another China Daily article. Other China Daily articles heckled the United States’ attempt at state-building in Afghanistan “an unmistakable, unfolding, messy failure,” and as “two decades of a vain attempt to build a Western-style democracy in a deeply religious country.”
Claim 2: In Contrast, China has the Best Interest of Afghanis In Mind
In contrast to the above, CCP media portray China as acting in the best interest of Afghanistan, often in not-so-subtle swipes against the United States. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stated that China “has always played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue,” and “always respects the sovereign independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, never interferes in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and always pursues a friendly policy toward all the Afghan people,” according to XinhuaNet.
Chinese media portray China as the adult in the room. Citing Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, “China’s views and stance on the Afghan situation are objective and fair, which respect the choice of the Afghan people and also encourage the Taliban to act in a responsible manner,” according to another XinhuaNet article.
Claim 3: China Is Best Suited to Rebuild Afghanistan (and it Will Do So on a Grand Scale)
CCP media also portray China as ready and able to rebuild Afghanistan. According to China Daily, “China on its part has had contact and communication with the Taliban and it is willing to play a constructive role in promoting enduring peace in the country and assisting it with reconstruction and development.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that China “will continue to support the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan and provide assistance with its capabilities,” according to another China Daily article.
In fact, Chinese state-run media indicate that China has grand plans for developing Afghanistan. According to a third China Daily article, Afghanistan should join the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, stating that “Afghanistan is in the utmost need of development in infrastructure, agriculture, health, education and society, which can be pushed forward under the umbrella of CPEC based on mutual and meaningful consultations between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” That article further asserts that “China has been emerging as a valuable financial source for dozens of countries in this volatile global economic situation…Afghanistan…has many logical and solid reasons to expand the comprehensive economic partnership with China for maximum dividends in sustainable development.”
Claim 4: Afghanistan is Where the US Loses Its Allies While China Strengthens Its Own Partnerships
CCP media portray the fall of Afghanistan as a lesson that America’s allies should not trust United States leadership. One Global Times article argues that several European countries are now questioning the integrity of American leadership while another asks if the American withdrawal is “some kind of omen for Taiwan’s future fate?”
In contrast, Chinese state-run media portray China as a competent leader brokering partnerships to safeguard Afghanistan’s future. China is “playing a mediating role” through Yue Xiaoyong, the Chinese government’s special envoy on Afghanistan, as Yue is “visiting a number of countries including Qatar, Russia, Turkey and Iran to discuss the situation,” according to China Daily. Foreign Minister Wang called on China and Pakistan to “strengthen communication and coordination to support a stable transition in Afghanistan,” according to XinhuaNet.
Chinese state-run media is at it yet again, engaging in yet another propaganda campaign against the United States. Like its propaganda campaigns attacking the State Department’s recent visit to China, blaming the US for the protests in Cuba, denying human rights violations against the Uyghurs, fighting the “lab leak” theory, and supporting China’s exportation of COVID-19 vaccine, China is using state-run media to improve its reputation abroad while maligning the United States.