On October 19, 2011, the government of Afghanistan -- acting in part on the recommendation of U.S. military advisers working with the Afghan Ministry of Mines -- granted a license to the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop several oil fields in northern Afghanistan. Just three years earlier, another state-owned Chinese company, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation, won the rights to develop Afghanistan's Aynak copper deposit, one of the largest in the world, again with American acquiescence.
These economic wins for Beijing shocked many on Capitol Hill and in the broader policy community. Although it was no secret that China had been gobbling up strategically important resources in emerging markets, people wondered how a country that had not contributed to Afghanistan's transformation could now reap its mineral benefits -- and how the country that had contributed more than any other could let it do so.
There should have been no
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