Fighting for China
Pentagon officials are upset and worried that the Bush administration’s pro-business policies toward communist China are undermining morale among troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The latest outrage was the disclosure last week that a Chinese state-run mining company won a contract from the Afghan government to develop a large copper mine. The China Metallurgical Group is expected to invest about $3 billion in the Aynak mine, in Logar province south of Kabul.
“China is getting a free ride while the U.S. and our NATO allies are fighting and dying for the Afghan people and their democratic government,” one official said. “The PRC has been credibly accused of bribery to [constr uct] the fiber optic r ing around Kabul, and now they are positioned to exploit Afghan natural resources with nasty and environmentally damaging mining operations.”
Mining companies from Canada and Australia, whose troops are in Afghanistan, also bid for the copper mining rights.
The question asked by Pentagon and military officials is: Why not press the new governments in Kabul and Baghdad to pick U.S. companies or those from allied countries?
The answer, the officials said, is that the pro-China policies are the work of State Department officials who apparently prefer to see Chinese companies doing business in Iraq and Afghanistan over U.S. or allied firms.
Officials suspect that in addition to getting access to copper, the Chinese want the oil and gas reserves in the resource-rich Afghan mountains, since China has almost no reserves of those resources and is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern energy supplies.
The Chinese copper concession follows recent intelligence reports that China is covertly shipping arms to insurgents and terrorists in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and hiding the transfers by supplying r ifles, grenades and rockets that have been altered to make tracing their origin difficult.
Chinese companies also were allowed to win contracts in Iraq to develop oil fields and to build electric power stations. Beijing also is supplying weapons to the Iraqi police.