China congratulates new interim Taliban govt, assures it of economic, political cooperation

China has congratulated the new interim Taliban govt in Afghanistan in a major boost to the latter’s efforts to gain international recognition for its hardline government mainly comprising the Taliban leaders and controversial figures, contrary to its promise of forming an inclusive government.

Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said in a tweet that China’s Ambassador in Kabul Wang Yu met acting Afghan Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi on Tuesday and “congratulated the new Afghan government”. Wang told Muttaqi, China respects the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and supports the Afghan people to choose their own development path. This is the second high profile meeting between China and the new interim Taliban government after the late August meeting between Abdul Salam Hanafi, the deputy head of the Taliban political committee and Ambassador Wang Yu in Kabul. China defended and welcomed the Taliban’s interim hardline government as a “necessary step” to restore order and “end anarchy”. Contrary to the Chinese approach, Leaders from other countries including Russia are adopting cautious approaches. Russia last week opted out of a meeting of countries sharing a border with Afghanistan which was convened by Pakistan.

As per Russian official news agency, Wang also promised that “China will continue its humanitarian, economic and political cooperation with Afghanistan” and hoped that a “broad and inclusive” political structure is being established in Afghanistan. The assurance from China comes on the same day Beijing said it will donate three million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Afghanistan in the first batch with more emergency supplies to follow. The vaccines will be part of the $31 million worth of food, winter weather supplies, vaccines, and medicine that Beijing pledged to provide Kabul earlier this month. Wang, in his meeting with Muttaqi, appreciated the efforts of the Afghan side to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens, China’s state-run TV reported.

As per media reports, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmad Khan has also met Muttaqi. China along with Pakistan and Russia have kept their embassies open in Kabul. Asked for his reaction to the Chinese Ambassador’s meeting with Muttaqi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday said that China’s Embassy in Afghanistan is operating normally, and China stands ready to maintain communication with the new government in Afghanistan.
China on Wednesday supported the Taliban’s demand that the US should unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets and said that America has no legitimate reasons to do so. According to media reports, the US has frozen about USD 9.5 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank and stopped shipments of cash to Kabul, in a bid to keep the Taliban government from accessing the money. China also supported the interim Taliban government’s stand that it will take possible legal action to get the funds released.

Since the Taliban came to power, China has been asking it to make a clean break from terrorist groups and especially not to permit the Uygur militant group from Xinjiang, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told Chinese state media last week that since the Taliban came to power, the ETIM militants have left Afghanistan. He did not specify where they fled and remained non-committal on extradition of ETIM members to China.

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