China hopes Taliban will establish ‘open, inclusive’ Islamic govt; not permit terror groups
China on Monday reacted guardedly to the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan which shares borders with its volatile Xinjiang province, hoping that the group delivers on its commitment to form an “open and inclusive” Islamic government and stand by its word not to allow terror outfits, especially the Uygur Islamic militants, to operate from its soil.
While confusion and concern gripped various world capitals to evacuate their diplomats and nationals in haste following a sudden capture of power by the Taliban on Sunday, China, which last month hosted a Taliban delegation, outwardly appeared calm with its diplomats engaged with the Afghan militant group for a peaceful transition.
Commenting for the first time on the sudden and rapid takeover of the Afghanistan government by the Taliban insurgents, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in a media briefing here expressed hope that the Taliban will abide by its commitment to ensure a peaceful transition of power, taking full responsibility for the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign diplomatic missions.
Taliban insurgents swept Kabul on Sunday after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, bringing an unprecedented end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform the war-ravaged nation.
While most of the embassies in Kabul, including that of the US, India and the EU countries rushed to evacuate their diplomatic staff, Hua said the Chinese Embassy is up and running with its ambassador and some staff.
However, most of the Chinese nationals have already been evacuated from Afghanistan, she said.
“The situation in Afghanistan has experienced major changes. We respect Afghanistan’s people’s will and choice,” Hua said.
The war in Afghanistan has lasted over 40 years. It’s time to stop the war and realise peace is the wish of the 30-million Afghan people and the aspiration of the international community and regional countries, she said.
“We noticed the statement from the Afghan Taliban yesterday (Sunday) saying that the war is over and they will start consultation on establishment of an open and inclusive Islamic government and take responsibility for the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign diplomatic corps,” the spokesperson said.
“We hope this will be implemented to ensure a peaceful transition, stop violence and terrorism, and make sure people are free from war and build their new home,” Hua said.
She struck a cautious note while replying to a question on when will China recognise the Taliban government and whether Beijing attached any condition for that.
On the basis of fully respecting Afghanistan’s national sovereignty and the will of all parties, Beijing has been maintaining contact and communication with the Taliban and playing a constructive role in promoting a political settlement, she said.
“We hope the Afghan Taliban will be united with other parties and with all nations and build a political framework in keeping with national conditions that is broadly inclusive and will lay the foundation for enduring peace,” she said.
Observers say China, which is being closely guided by its all-weather ally Pakistan in shaping up its Afghanistan policy in the light of a new situation, may recognise the Taliban-led government once it is formed.
A Taliban delegation headed by the head of its Political Commission Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Chinese city of Tianjin on July 24 during which Wang asked the militant group to make a clean break with all terrorist organisations, especially the
ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) which is waging an insurgency in Xinjiang, home of 10-million Uygur Muslims.
Baradar told Wang that “the Afghan Taliban will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China. The Afghan Taliban believes that Afghanistan should develop friendly relations with neighbouring countries and the international community,” state-run Global Times reported on Monday.
The Taliban delegation’s visit followed Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit for talks with Wang. China is banking on Pakistan to pressure the Taliban to prevent the regrouping of ETIM militants in Xinjiang borders to stir up trouble there.
Recalling Baradar’s commitment, Hua emphasised the Taliban’s assurance to Wang that it will not permit anti-China forces.
According to a recent UN report, hundreds of militants belonging to the ETIM, which is affiliated to the al-Qaeda terror group, are converging in Afghanistan amidst the military advances made by the Taliban.
Xinjiang shares borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), besides Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Referring to the Taliban’s assurances, Hua said the Afghan Taliban has repeatedly said that they wanted to develop a good relationship with China and hope that Beijing will take part in the reconstruction and development of the nation.
She said that the Taliban has assured that it “will never allow any forces to use the country (Afghanistan) to harm China”.
“We welcome that and we have always respected the county’s sovereignty and independence and integrity. We do not interfere in internal affairs and our friendship is for all the people of Afghanistan. We respect people’s independence (and) choice and we continue to develop friendly relations and play a constructive role in peace and reconstruction,” Hua added.