Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi received a delegation of nine Taliban representatives on Wednesday in the city of Tianjin. The meeting is part of a two-day visit by the Islamic fundamentalist group to China to discuss peace talks and security issues as ties between the Asian country and the Taliban tighten before the complete withdrawal of US troops from the country. Afghanistan.
The meeting comes as the Taliban uses an offensive to regain control of Afghanistan, which has already conquered important border crossings with its neighbors Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and more recently Pakistan.
China hopes the Taliban will “put Afghanistan’s interests first, maintain a commitment to peace negotiations, defend the goal of peace, create a positive image and adopt an inclusive policy,” it said. report from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese government has also said it expects the Taliban to distance themselves from terrorist groups.
Creating a positive image is part of the Taliban’s current strategy, according to Tanguy Baghdadi, professor of international politics. The expert explains that the Taliban has used the fact that it has already sat down to negotiate with the United States to promote a new international image, showing that the “new Taliban” is willing to stabilize Afghanistan.
“The curious thing is that there is some credibility in this speech, considering that the Taliban has been fiercely re-conquering territory in Afghanistan at the expense of government authority, entrenched in Kabul.” said Baghdadi on his Twitter profile, referring to recent offensives by the Taliban, who say they are negotiating peace with the government of President Ashraf Ghani.
“The Taliban, speaking like a real government, has already announced that it is ready to receive Chinese investments. The meeting was held in the Chinese city of Tiajin, with such tranquility that it would be possible to say that the Taliban, in fact, has become the new government of the country,” added the expert.
When the withdrawal of American troops was agreed between Donald Trump’s administration and the Taliban in 2020, the militant group pledged to negotiate with Ghani, but little progress had been made in more than a year.
Barnett Rubin, a former US State Department official and senior fellow at New York University’s Center for International Cooperation, told the Wall Street Journal that Beijing has “tired” of US-led peace efforts and is “trying to use its influence to persuade and perhaps pressure the Taliban to become seriously involved in the peace process.”
Despite the closeness with the Taliban, China continues to formally recognize the Ghani government, with whom it also maintains a dialogue.
China’s Interest in Afghanistan
It is believed that groups considered terrorists by China are operating in Afghanistan, as is the case of the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, which according to the Chinese government is also active in the province of Xinjiang. Whoever takes over the government of Afghanistan in the future, China wants to neutralize what it sees as a direct threat to national security – noting that the two countries share some 90 kilometers of border.
The Taliban delegation pledged on Wednesday to “not allow anyone to use Afghan deceit against China.”
Another factor is the expansion of the infrastructure program Belt and Road Initiative in Afghanistan, a country that is in a key geostrategic location, connecting South Asia and the Middle East and Central Asia. Many of the Chinese projects started in the country are stalled because of the violence, so securing peace could lead to new businesses, especially in the energy and transport infrastructure sector.
Commenting on the Chinese government’s meeting with the Taliban, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China’s involvement in Afghanistan “could be a positive thing” if the Asian giant is seeking a “peaceful solution to the conflict ” and a “truly representative and inclusive” government.