Kabul: Chinatown in Kabul, a Chinese business group in Afghanistan, recently started construction work on the "Chinatown industrial park project", which was approved by the Taliban government recently.

China wants to use the industrial park to attract factories from the People's Republic to Afghanistan. The workers being paid with Chinese money have been working for the third consecutive day, laying the foundation stone for a 130-hectare industrial park, located at the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

Since the Taliban government came to power, Afghanistan has been officially isolated internationally; no country has yet recognized the new regime.

The people of Afghanistan have suffered from economic hardship. Aid organizations speak of a hunger crisis. Beggars are part of everyday life on the streets of Kabul. Many have lost their jobs.

In this situation, foreign investment is generally good news, as it promises an upswing and jobs in the country.

Chinese firms have grown interested in Afghanistan's mining sector including projects involving copper and lithium, given the massive deposits in the country that are estimated to be worth as much as USD 1 trillion.

However, Beijing's growing interest raises concerns for the West as China's efforts are probably not altruistic. Besides economic profit, there are also strategic interests at stake - and systemic competition with America.

With the "Chinatown industrial park project" project, China is expecting to see considerable expansion in Afghanistan.

One of the company's representatives, Gao Susu, said, "The security situation in the past year has improved," while hoping that this will attract investors.

According to Gao, the planned industrial park near Kabul will initially only accommodate companies from China. "First, you want to address manufacturers of building materials, and later the consumer goods industry," she said.

"The company China Town Kabul has already been active in Afghanistan for 20 years, and now others are to follow, "she added.

When the West, led by the United States, pulled out of Afghanistan after two decades of military intervention, it left a vacuum. The Americans had put some USD 2.3 trillion into the war, engaged in

nation-building, and tried to turn Afghanistan into a friendly democracy. An ally in the region. In vain.

Behind the scenes, however, China is striving to partially fill the Americans' vacuum. Politically, Beijing is seeking solidarity with the Taliban; economically, the Chinese want to get involved in mining and trade. Afghanistan's mineral resources are estimated to be worth a trillion dollars.

Politically, too, China seeks proximity to the Taliban. Months ago, Beijing called for Afghanistan's internationally frozen assets to be released and for sanctions to be lifted.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu said China will "significantly expand bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan in all areas."

Ambassador Wang then said the US created problems in Afghanistan and did not help the people after they left. His words fit the narrative of the Communist Party. A State Department official recently posted photos of a Chinese and American military plane in Afghanistan.

The former brought relief supplies after a devastating earthquake, the latter was part of the US evacuation mission last summer.

"One cost lives, the other brought hope," Zhao Lijian wrote. "This is perhaps the biggest difference between China and the US."

In view of this, the former supreme commander of Western units in Afghanistan, retired General David Petraeus, warned of the consequences of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. "Washington should be concerned about this development," he said.

"This has enabled America's opponents to claim "that the United States is not a reliable partner and rather a declining great power," he recently wrote in an article for The Atlantic magazine.

This is by no means trivial at a time when deterrence is becoming increasingly important. By name, he mentions "a revisionist Russia, a self-confident China, an aggressive Iran, and Islamist extremists."