The Taliban are on the rise in Afghanistan. This could also have consequences for neighboring countries. Beijing has therefore received a delegation from the terrorist militia – and made agreements.
In their pursuit of international recognition, the Afghan Taliban are also seeking support from China. A delegation of senior Taliban officials was received by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing, the Chinese government confirmed on Wednesday. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if the Taliban came to power, Afghanistan would become an internationally isolated “pariah state”.
Afghanistan and China share a 76-kilometer border. Beijing sees a takeover of power by the radical Islamic insurgents possible effects on separatist efforts in the predominantly Muslim Uyghur region of Xinjiang in western China. On the other hand, stability in the resource-rich neighboring country would open up new economic opportunities for China.
Assurances from both sides
A Taliban spokesman said Wednesday that the Chinese leadership had received assurances that Afghanistan would not host groups that pose a threat to other countries. For its part, China has declared that it will not interfere in Afghan affairs but rather “help to solve problems and bring peace”.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said China is sticking to its policy of non-interference. Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people.
Blinken: “Afghanistan would become a pariah state”
In recent months, the insurgents have intensified their diplomatic efforts to gain international recognition. The delegation in Beijing is headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban. China had already received a Taliban delegation in 2019, and there had been unofficial contacts with the insurgents beforehand.
US Secretary of State Blinken said on a visit to India that if the Taliban came to power, Afghanistan would become an internationally isolated country. “An Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that perpetrates atrocities against its own people, would become a pariah state,” said Blinken.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and is heavily dependent on international aid. The country has lucrative natural resources that are of interest to neighboring countries such as China and India, but the security situation has never been stable enough to allow mining.
Advantages for China and the Taliban
Although the Taliban have hardly any ideological points of contact with the leadership in Beijing, mutual interests could close this gap. For China, stability in Afghanistan would enable further expansion of the planned “New Silk Road”; for the Taliban, China could become an important source of foreign investment and economic support.
However, the region is dangerous for Chinese citizens and businesses. The Chinese are repeatedly victims of attacks in Afghanistan’s neighboring country Pakistan. On Wednesday, a Chinese man was injured in a firearms attack in the city of Karachi. A few weeks ago, nine Chinese workers were killed in a bus bombing in northwestern Pakistan.
The Taliban are on the rise
In parallel to the rapid withdrawal of US and other NATO troops, the Taliban have conquered large parts of the country in recent months. They now control around half of the approximately 400 districts in Afghanistan.
Western observers fear that the Islamists could take power again in Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal of international troops. The peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Doha have been stalled for months.