Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the Taliban to exercise power sparingly and form an “inclusive” government, while reiterating the condition of Beijing’s support for the group that seized power in Afghanistan: sever ties with terrorist organizations .
The Chinese leader’s position was expressed during his first conversation on the crisis in the Asian country with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his potential partner in an attempt to fill the void left by the US withdrawal after 20 years of war.
The information was released by Chinese state television channel CCTV on Wednesday (25).
Xi also urged Russia, among other members of the international community, to coordinate efforts with China to help Afghan stability. The conversation echoed in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament that there is a “new reality” and that it is necessary to negotiate with the Taliban.
China and Russia are accused by President Joe Biden of working to undermine US efforts in the occupied country since 2001, when the same Taliban were ousted from power for harboring the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks .
Thus, the tone of the conversation between the leaders, who have maintained the closest proximity between their countries since the end of the Cold War in 1991, is not casual.
The Chinese case is more sensitive given that the country has a small border with Afghanistan and has over the years seen Taliban support for Islamic terrorists operating in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang.
A week before the massive Taliban offensive, which took advantage of the withdrawal of American troops announced in April to take the country in 15 days, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi received a delegation from the group.
It was headed by chief negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar, then exiled in Doha, who is now the top Taliban official in Kabul. In this conversation, the Chinese blessing on the return of extremists to power was given precisely on the premise of ending ties with radicals in Xinjiang.
For all intents and purposes, the Taliban accepted the conditions. Now Xi wants firmer engagement, not least because practical signs that the promised moderation is lip service abound in Afghanistan since the 15th, when his troops entered Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani fled to the Emirates. United Arabs.
Women avoid taking to the streets for fear of attacks similar to those in the days when the group ruled the country, from 1996 to 2001. Photos of women with their faces uncovered and shop windows in beauty salons have been destroyed by activists.
Even the Taliban do not deny the problem. On Tuesday (24), their spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said women should stay at home for now because their activists “have not yet been trained” to respect them. “It’s a military situation, temporary,” he said.
It’s a question. The other, the research focused on the group of people who worked with the West and for the government, with reports of arbitrary arrests and executions. The security of Kabul is in the hands of a group considered terrorist by the UN, the Haqqani network.
The US occupation brought security concerns for Xi, but it was also geopolitically interesting, keeping his main Cold War 2.0 adversary occupied in Asia, his backyard.
However, the situation offers the opportunity to fill the political vacuum, without military engagement, in order to somehow integrate Afghanistan into its sphere of economic influence. There are obstacles to that.
In neighboring Pakistan, the country that helped create the Taliban in the 1990s, Beijing has invested heavily in a corridor of infrastructure and export flow through the Indian Ocean, but faces constant attacks on its citizens – Last Friday (20), three Chinese were killed in the port of Gawdar.
On the other hand, this relationship will allow stabilization of the western Chinese border, one of its greatest security concerns.
The political issue, on the other hand, lies in the fact that once the chaos and humiliation of the precipitated retreat by Kabul airport has passed, the United States and its allies will be able to put their energy into the strategy aimed at contain China in the Indo-Pacific.
For Putin, the prospect is that of a minority society in the Chinese effort, aimed primarily at maintaining the security of its allies in Central Asia who separate it from extremists and also of China, especially Tajikistan, which has a permeable border. to infiltrations from Afghanistan. .
The Russian on Wednesday suspended his month-long military exercises in the country to concentrate his forces on withdrawing 500 people, with four planes, from Kabul – in addition to Russians, Belarusians, Central Asian people and even Ukrainians, citizens of ‘a hostile country. in Moscow.
On the west side, the rush to withdraw before the August 31 deadline continues. Chancellor Dominic Raab admitted in an interview with UK broadcaster ITV on Wednesday that he does not know how many people remain to be evacuated and, in the end, how many they will handle.
Biden, after threats from the Taliban and asserting the risk of attacks from ISIS, maintained the withdrawal limit. About 70,000 people have already left, in imprecise reports. The Taliban have cut off civilians’ access to the airport area, where 21 people have already died, but there are still thousands waiting for a place to fly.