China says ready for 'friendly relations' with Taliban after Kabul takeover

Published August 16, 2021
A Chinese paramilitary police stands guard outside the Afghanistan embassy in Beijing, China on August 16. — AFP
A Chinese paramilitary police stands guard outside the Afghanistan embassy in Beijing, China on August 16. — AFP

China is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan, a government spokeswoman said on Monday, after the Taliban seized control of the country.

Beijing has sought to maintain unofficial ties with the Taliban throughout the US' withdrawal from Afghanistan, which spurred an advance by the hardliners across the country that saw them capture the capital Kabul on Sunday.

China shares a rugged 76-kilometre border with Afghanistan.

Beijing has long feared Afghanistan could become a staging point for minority Uyghur separatists in the sensitive border region of Xinjiang.

But a top-level Taliban delegation met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin last month, promising that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militants.

In exchange, China offered economic support and investment for Afghanistan's reconstruction.

On Monday, China said it “welcomed” the chance to deepen ties with Afghanistan, a country that has for generations been coveted for its geo-strategic importance by bigger powers.

“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China's participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“We welcome this. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop ... friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan.”

Hua called on the Taliban to “ensure a smooth transition” of power and keep its promises to negotiate the establishment of an “open and inclusive Islamic government” and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens.

China's embassy in Kabul remains operational, Hua said, although Beijing began evacuating Chinese citizens from the country months ago amid the deteriorating security situation.

In a statement on Monday, the embassy told Chinese citizens remaining in Afghanistan to “pay close attention to the security situation” and stay indoors.

US President Joe Biden promised a complete withdrawal of US troops by September 11, marking an end to two decades of war.

But Washington was left shocked by the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban's sweeping advance.

China has repeatedly criticised what it sees as the US' hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan as a failure of leadership.

Stability and business

The Taliban's takeover opens a strategic door to China laden with both risk and opportunity.

Maintaining stability after decades of war in its western neighbour will be Beijing's main consideration, as it seeks to secure its borders and strategic infrastructure investments in Pakistan.

For Beijing, a stable and cooperative administration in Kabul would pave the way for an expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative into Afghanistan and through the Central Asian republics, analysts say.

The Taliban meanwhile may consider China a crucial source of investment and economic support.

China has so far stopped short of officially recognising the Taliban as the new leaders of Afghanistan, but Wang Yi called them a “decisive military and political force” during last month's meeting in Tianjin.

Opinion

Editorial

More leaks
Updated 29 Sep, 2022

More leaks

Recent leaks look more like an inside job than the work of a foreign power.
A depressing winter
29 Sep, 2022

A depressing winter

WINTER is on its way, with a massive gas crunch looming as elevated global LNG prices have eroded the cash-strapped...
Great expectations
29 Sep, 2022

Great expectations

CONSIDERING that the Afghan Taliban have been in the saddle for over a year now, the UN has expressed frustration...
The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
Updated 28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

It's reprehensible how PTI supporters now seem convinced that politicians from opposing camps aren't entitled to basic dignity.
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...