The United States and coalition forces may be pulling out of Afghanistan, but China is happy to take their place. Beijing and Afghanistan are poised to sign a wide-ranging agreement this week to deepen ties, reports Reuters. The agreement will elevate "our existing, solid relationship to a new level, to a strategic level," said a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry. "It would certainly cover a broad spectrum which includes cooperation in the security sector, a very significant involvement in the economic sector, and the cultural field."
While details have not been forthcoming, analysts expect it could include the training of Afghan security forces, although the Chinese are not likely to contribute to the $4.1 billion Afghan security fund. Competition among Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and China for influence in Afghanistan is expected to rise, but "especially in security affairs in Afghanistan, China will remain low-key and cautious," said a Chinese expert. "China wants to play more of a role there, but each option in doing that will be assessed carefully before any steps are taken."