Chinese officials meeting with Taliban ahead of US withdrawal
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a delegation of Taliban officials on Wednesday, a sign of warming ties between China and the Taliban as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.
Wang met with senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in the city of Tianjin, according to The Associated Press,
During the talks, Wang said China respects Afghanistan’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity and would continue to adhere to its policy of noninterference in Afghan affairs. Ever since the Biden administration announced the withdrawal of American troops, the Taliban has successfully taken control of several Afghan territories.
Earlier this month, the Taliban claimed to now control 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory, though Afghan government officials have disputed that.
Wang said the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops “reveals the failure of America’s policies and offers the Afghan people an important opportunity to stabilize and develop their own country.”
“The Taliban are a pivotal military and political force in Afghanistan and are expected to play an important role in the in process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction,” Wang added.
The AP notes that while no agenda was announced in the meeting, China does have an interest in encouraging the Taliban toward peace talks or a reduction in violence since it shares a small border with Afghanistan in the Xinjiang region. China has long had concerns of spillover into the region.
China also has deals for oil, gas and copper mining in Afghanistan, though the AP notes that those deals have been dormant.
Wang also said he hoped the Taliban would “deal resolutely” with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a group that China claims is pushing for independence in Xinjiang. The AP reports that experts doubt whether the group currently even operates.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented on this meeting in a segment on CNN Wednesday, acknowledging that countries like China that neighbor Afghanistan will have an interest in its affairs.
“And as it happens, those interests largely align. No one, whether it’s the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Central Asian countries – no one has an interest in Afghanistan falling into an enduring civil war,” Blinken said. “No one has an interest in a military takeover of the country by the Taliban, the restoration of an Islamic emirate. Everyone has an interest in a peaceful resolution of the conflict and some kind of government that emerges that’s truly representative and inclusive.”
“And so if China is acting on those interests, if other countries are acting on those interests, that’s a positive thing,” he said.
Updated 1:33 p.m.