Just came across this article by Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy
"Making the World Safe for Chinese Investment." It's mainly a critique of US foreign policy, but has observations on China's approach in Afghanistan, versus ours. Walt, drawing on a report in Time magazine, says:
While we've been running around playing whack-a-mole with the Taliban and "investing" billions each year in the corrupt Karzai government, China has been investing in things that might actually be of some value, like a big copper mine.
... This isn't the 19th century and we can't just rewind the clock, but there's still a lot of wisdom in much more selective approach to the use of American power. You know, sorta the way that Beijing seems to doing it."