Wednesday, September 29, 2021

China silent on media reports of Taliban inviting it at an event to announce new Afghan govt

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday remained silent on a media report claiming that the Taliban has invited China, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar to attend the new government formation ceremony in Afghanistan. Responding to a media report on this issue, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “I have no information to offer at this moment”. He reiterated China’s stance on Afghan issue and said that “China supports Afghanistan in forming an open, inclusive, broadly-based government upholding moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies and live in good terms with the neighbouring countries”.

China’s Afghanistan policy is evolving in coordination with its “all-weather ally” Pakistan and Russia which also share borders with Afghanistan. Beijing, which has kept its Embassy open in Kabul along with Pakistan and Russia, is awaiting the formation of a government by the Taliban to decide on recognizing it amidst firm indications by the US, the UK and other western countries that they will not be in a hurry to endorse the new government in Kabul.

China is also keeping a close watch on the Panjshir Valley fighting between the Taliban and the militias of Ahmad Massoud-led National Resistance Front (NRF) which has reportedly delayed the formation of the new government in Afghanistan. On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a telephonic conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during which he said that new government in Afghanistan should be open and inclusive, make a clean break with terrorist organisations, and establish and develop good relations with other countries, especially neighbouring countries.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, China has been vocal in expressing its concern over the Uygur militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) fighting for the independence of Xinjiang, as the volatile province shares a narrow border with the war-ravaged country. China has been proactively engaging the Taliban and has also fetched a promise that Taliban will not permit the ETIM to operate from Afghan soil.

China is also trying to extend its USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan besides exploiting the mineral-rich mines there. The Taliban has already said that China has a big role to play in Afghanistan in the reconstruction of the war-raved country. As per state media reports, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said at a press conference on Monday that the Afghan Taliban expressed hope for cooperation with China in many fields including economy, trade and infrastructure construction as the Taliban declared control of the Panjshir Valley a claim disputed by fighters of militias of Ahmad Massoud-led National Resistance Front.

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