China: World Should 'Encourage' Taliban Instead of 'Exerting Pressure'

China: World Should 'Encourage' Taliban Instead of 'Exerting Pressure'

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday encouraged world leaders to help foment the Taliban’s “early political transition” in Afghanistan instead of “exerting excessive pressure” on the terror group, which seized control of the Afghan national capital, Kabul, this week.

In a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on August 19, Wang “stressed that the following situation in Afghanistan is still unstable and uncertain, and the international community should encourage and guide it in a positive direction, instead of exerting excessive pressure.”

“This is conducive to the early political transition by the Taliban and other political forces in the country, the stabilization of [the] domestic situation in Afghanistan, and the reduction of the impact of refugees and immigrants,” he continued.

“China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in the Afghan issue without interfering [in] its internal affairs,” Wang added.

The Chinese foreign minister advised the international community to “refrain from a predetermined mindset and exceeding one’s duties to meddle in others’ affairs, and not turn Afghanistan into an arena of geopolitical games.”

While Beijing has not officially recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new rulers, Wang hosted one of the terror group’s leaders, Mullah Baradar, in northeastern China’s Tianjin city on July 28. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an official press release announcing the visit in which it referred to Baradar as the “head of the Afghan Taliban Political Commission.”

Wang described the Taliban as “an important military and political force in Afghanistan” and said Beijing expected the group “to play an important role in the country’s peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process” after U.S. and NATO-allied troops completed a withdrawal from the country, which was slated to finish by August 31 before the Taliban unexpectedly sacked Kabul on August 15.

Baradar, speaking on behalf of the Taliban, said the group “hopes that China will be more involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process and play a bigger role in future reconstruction and economic development.”

Afghanistan has long been of significant geostrategic importance to Beijing, as the country shares a 57-mile-long land border with China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying suggested on Monday that Beijing hoped to fund infrastructure projects in Afghanistan by collaborating with the Taliban.

“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” she told reporters on August 16.

Gabrielle Reyes