The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously extended its mission in Afghanistan after China withdrew its threat of a veto if the text did not mention Beijing’s “Belt and Road” trade initiative.
For 15 days China had wielded its threat, calling for the resolution to include a reference to President Xi Jinping’s effort to reinvent the ancient Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects. Chinese banks would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in financing for the initiative, which the United States views with suspicion as a means of expanding Chinese hegemony.
Beijing’s partners often found incomprehensible the Chinese position when the Council’s aim was to renew support for Afghanistan, where Taliban suicide bombers on Tuesday killed at least 48 people and warned of more violence before a presidential election on Sept. 28.
Among its duties, the U.N.’s Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), established in 2002, supports the government as well as the peace and reconciliation process, promotion of human rights, and encourages regional cooperation. The Council extended the mission for one year with a compromise text, negotiated by Germany and Indonesia, that did not mention the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but refers to promotion of “regional cooperation and connectivity,” a term Beijing clung to, according to a diplomat.
In the middle of a trade war with China, Washington had refused any mention of BRI in the resolution, and a majority of Council members supported the U.S. stance.
The adopted resolution asks UNAMA to support “in close consultation and coordination with the Government of Afghanistan, the organization of future timely, credible, transparent, and inclusive Afghan elections, including the presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, 2019.” It further calls for working “closely with the election management bodies on and after election day, supporting them to deliver a robust and transparent results management process.”