US

Republicans warn CHINA could claim Bagram base Biden abandoned two months before fall of Afghanistan

Nikki Haley warns CHINA could take over Bagram air base as Taliban look to Beijing for help

  • Former ambassador to UN warns that China could make a move for air base vacated by U.S. troops in July
  • Nikki Haley urged the Biden administration to reach out to allies as part of a strategy for keeping rivals out of Afghanistan
  • Meanwhile the Taliban said China was their most important international partner 


The U.S. must rebuild fragile alliances with partner nations or risk rivals such as China moving into Afghanistan to collect strategic assets including Bagram Air Base, according to Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations.

The fate of the base, abandoned by U.S. troops in the middle of the night at the start of July, has been seized on by President Biden’s critics to symbolize what they say was an ill-thought out withdrawal.

And now the base, which was once the hub of America’s war in Afghanistan, could be a prize for rivals seeking to extend their reach. 

‘We need to watch China, because I think you are going to see China make a move for Bagram Air Force Base,’ said Haley in an interview with Fox News as she made the case for reconnecting with allies who felt let down by a precipitous withdrawal. 

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned that China was eying Bagram Air Base, which was once the hub of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan

U.S. forces slipped out of Bagram at night on July 1 without even informing the Afghan commander who was due to stake over the vast air base

U.S. forces slipped out of Bagram at night on July 1 without even informing the Afghan commander who was due to stake over the vast air base

Blast walls and a few buildings can be seen at the Bagram air base after the American military left the base, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Their departure marked the effective end of the 20-year U.S. war in the country

Blast walls and a few buildings can be seen at the Bagram air base after the American military left the base, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Their departure marked the effective end of the 20-year U.S. war in the country

The Biden administration was criticised for giving up Bagram air base before withdrawing American civilians and Afghan allies. The move left U.S. forces reliant on a civilian airport, with a single runway in the heart of a city controlled by the Taliban

The Biden administration was criticised for giving up Bagram air base before withdrawing American civilians and Afghan allies. The move left U.S. forces reliant on a civilian airport, with a single runway in the heart of a city controlled by the Taliban

‘I think they are also making a move in Afghanistan and trying to use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India. 

‘So, we have got a lot of issues. The biggest thing he should do is strengthen our allies, strengthen those relationships, modernise our military, and make sure we are prepared for the cyber-crimes and the terrorist crimes that are headed our way.’

While Western nations were evacuating their embassies, the Chinese mission kept operating. Their security guards simply change from Afghan government security forces to Taliban gunman. 

The Taliban has already begun talking up plans for cooperation with Beijing. 

A Taliban spokesman told an Italian newspaper that Afghanistan’s new rulers will rely primarily on financing from China as it seeks to head off a looming humanitarian crisis and begin reconstruction.

‘China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country,’ Zabihullah Mujahid told La Repubblica in an interview. 

He also praised the New Silk Road – an infrastructure initiative with China is using to open up trade routes – and said Beijing investment could help reopen copper mines.   

‘You have potentially gifted Afghanistan to China,’ said Jim Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation. ‘This has huge strategic implications. 

The territory would provide a land bridge into central Asia for China as it seeks to extend its influence.

For the time being, he added, Beijing is likely to use public diplomacy and investment as part of a long game rather then making a sudden push for assets on the ground.

But Bagram held huge propaganda value for all of Afghanistan’s players. 

‘The picture of a Chinese plane delivering humanitarian aid to the Taliban landing at Bagram air base – who wouldn’t want that photograph,’ he said. 

‘But that’s different to basing stealth fighters at Bagram. 

‘What is correct is that there’s a China strategic dimension to all of this. 

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