As the Taliban have tightened their grip on Kabul and started forming their government, many Western countries are unsure of how to proceed. Many Western embassies are closing, and tens of thousands of diplomats and other American and European citizens are leaving the country.
A country that has reacted optimistically to the Taliban takeover – at least on the surface –was china, whose victory by state media called the group’s “will and choice of the Afghan people” and pledged to keep its embassy in Kabul open as the group consolidates its control. Chinese media also popular the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the US-backed government, portraying it as a sign of US incompetence and reluctance to support its allies.
China’s interests in Afghanistan are primarily economic rather than political. Afghanistan is rich in resources, with many valuable resources, including gold and copper, which China seeks to import. The country is also an ideal destination for Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to expand China’s trade ties with Asia, Africa and Europe. As the Taliban have been largely shunned by the West, Chinese investment and trade is a lucrative proposition.
Afghanistan shares a small border area with China; the country is adjacent to China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where Beijing’s actions towards the province’s Uyghur population have been the subject of much criticism in the West.
Because the unrest in Afghanistan has fueled Islamic activism among Uyghurs in Xinjiang in the past, China has remained adamant that international terrorist groups are not allowed to operate under the protection of a future Afghan government, like Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups, including some Uyghurs. , made in the 1990s.
In July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a Taliban delegation, including the future leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and urged the group to “break definitively” with the terrorist organizations which had supported it in the past. Baradar promised in return that the Taliban would not allow any organization in the country to “engage in acts harmful to China.”
China also maintains particularly close relations with neighboring Pakistan, which played a major role in training and supporting the Taliban in the 1990s and has long been accused of secretly supporting the militant group.
Trevor Filseth is a current affairs and foreign affairs writer for the National interest.