Fight­ing for China

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

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.

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