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High Road To Change

2 Sep 2021

Prayer Updates / Featured

High Road To Change

A nation can choose its friends, but it can’t choose its neighbours. China shares a short section of border (76kms) with Afghanistan. From the border, a pan-handle of land 350 km (220 mi) long and 13–65 km (8–40 mi) wide, known as the Wakhan Corridor, stretches across high mountain valleys to the rest of Afghanistan. Both sides of the border are currently nature reserves, but historically the mountain pass between the nations once formed part of the ancient silk route network. In fact, this was the route that Marco Polo was actually said to travel.

In the 2000s, Afghanistan asked China on several occasions to open this border for economic reasons or as an alternative supply route for fighting the Taliban insurgency. However, China resisted, partly due to unrest in its own Xinjiang Province and no doubt because of Afghanistan’s drug industry. In December 2009, it was again reported that the USA had asked China (unsuccessfully) to open the corridor. But now, with America flown, and with the Taliban in charge, once again there is talk of turning the cul-de-sac into a major trade route.

Until recently, only a dirt track gave access from the western end, reaching to about half way along the corridor. Onward travel east to China was only possible by foot or with pack animals. However, recent Belt and Road construction has extended the drivable track to around three quarters of the corridor. The people living there are peaceful.

Should the Wakhan project progress, it could see Kabul become a major hub in Eurasia. It lies between China and Iran,  from whom China has just secured cheap oil and gas as part of a $US4 billion trade deal in March. Kabul is also a crossroad on the planned north-south trade route from Russia passing through Afghanistan and on to Peshawar in Pakistan and the Gwadar Port via high speed rail. It should be noted that Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan signed a request seeking a loan of $4.8bn from the World Bank for this rail project linking Tashkent-Kabul-Peshawar in January 2021. This would open up Central Asia to the Indian Ocean.

Gazing into the future, irrigation projects from China’s mountains to the Central Asian grasslands, and canal networks to the Mediterranean have also been rumoured, both world changing projects should they ever go ahead.

As the world enters a second period of cold war, it seems to be dividing into two distinct blocks, vying for dominance. Eurasia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the East, and NATO and the EU in the West. China’s ties with Russia are strengthening with largescale joint military exercises in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous region of China being conducted in August.

Afghanistan is rich in minerals that China requires. Conversely, China has a lot to offer the long-suffering Afghan people who have endured war far too long. Roads, rail, energy projects and pipe lines would be mutually beneficial but require huge investments and loans. And no investor would throw money in without assurance of peace and security. Afghanistan may have little choice but to accept China’s assistance to rebuild, in combination with its version of security.

Certainly God, who puts leaders into power, can see more clearly into the future than mere man’s speculations. One thing He would probably want to bring to our attention, is the 40 different tribal peoples in Afghanistan’s mountains that do not have the Word in their language and the desperate need of the nation to hear the message of Jesus Christ. If there is a window of opportunity, however brief, let us prepare to partner with Chinese believers to reach them, and to assist the Afghanistan church. It was only earlier this year they told us they were planning on coming out of hiding. How things have changed.

Prayer Points

Pray for the deliverance of God’s people from harm in Afghanistan.

Pray that the desires of the wicked will not succeed, lest they be exalted. (Psalm 140)

Pray that God will prepare a way for His Word to reach people in Afghanistan.

Pray that mission-hearted Chinese will be given opportunities to connect with Afghans and to effectively share the gospel.





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