In a move to both extend its external influence and preserve internal security, the Chinese government said on Monday (16) that it was ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” diplomatic relations with the new Taliban government in Afghanistan. .
The two countries share a short 76-kilometer border in one of China’s most sensitive regions, Xinjiang Province, home to the Uyghur Muslim minority, targeted by the Chinese government’s crackdown. Beijing fears the participation of the Taliban in separatist movements, and has therefore sought in recent months to maintain informal relations with the radical group that seized power in Afghanistan on Sunday (15).
A Taliban delegation had already met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin last month and promised that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for Uyghur militants. In return, China has offered economic support and investment in the reconstruction of the country.
On Monday, the Chinese government said it welcomed the deepening of relations with Afghanistan. “More than once, the Taliban have expressed the hope of developing good relations with China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
“It is welcome. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue developing friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan,” he said.
Afghanistan has been occupied by US-led military troops since 2001, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, when the Americans ousted the Taliban from power. The fundamentalist group ruled the country for five years under a regime marked by violence and disrespect for human rights.
After 20 years of war, however, Western troops failed to strengthen the Afghan state, and the announcement by Joe Biden’s government that it would withdraw the country’s military was enough for the Taliban to regain power in few weeks in a military offensive that came true this Sunday.
The Chinese government has also urged 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 to ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign nationals. .
The Chinese embassy in Kabul continues to operate, Hua said, although Beijing has started removing Chinese citizens from the country in recent months due to deteriorating security.
In a statement sent to Chinese in the country on Monday, the embassy urged them to “pay particular attention to the security situation” and to stay at home.