Willing to develop friendly relations with Taliban, says China
As the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, China on Monday said that it is willing to develop "friendly relations" with the country. Even as others evacuate Afghanistan, the Chinese embassy in Kabul remains operational. Notably, Afghanistan has long been used by foreign powers for its geostrategic importance and China is looking to avoid it being used as a base for Uighur militants.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop... friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan." She said China "welcomed" the chance to deepen ties with Afghanistan. China also urged the Taliban to "ensure a smooth transition" of power.
"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," said the Ministry spokesperson.
China urged the Taliban to keep its promise to establish an "open and inclusive Islamic government" and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens. The Chinese embassy in Kabul remains operational, Hua said. The embassy asked Chinese citizens in Afghanistan to "pay close attention to the security situation" and stay indoors. Reportedly, Beijing had begun evacuating Chinese citizens from Afghanistan months ago.
China had earlier hinted that it will accept the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi formally met a Taliban delegation, including top leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin. Wang said the Taliban is "a crucial military and political force in Afghanistan that is expected to play an important role in the peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process of Afghanistan."
Notably, China shares a 76-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan. Of this, its Xinjiang province shares an eight-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan. China worries that, under the rule of the Taliban, Afghanistan could become a base for Uighur Islamic separatist groups.
However, the Taliban ensured China last month that it will not host Uighur Islamic militants from China's Xinjiang province. Allaying Beijing's concerns, the Taliban had said at the time that China was a "friendly" country. "We have good relations with China... China is a friendly country and we welcome it for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan," Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen had said.
Separately, the Taliban on Monday said that it expects India to change its stance and support the group. "I hope they (India) will also change their policies because earlier they were siding with the regime government, which was imposed. It would be good for both sides, for the people of India and Afghanistan," Shaheen Suhail, the spokesperson for the Taliban, told CNN-News18.
China's statement comes as the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul on Sunday and captured the President's palace. President Ashraf Ghani has since fled Afghanistan, which he said was necessary to avoid a "flood of bloodshed." While efforts are on to form an interim government in Afghanistan, the United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Monday.
The military victory of the Taliban came after the United States' decision to withdraw troops from the country after fighting a war for almost two decades. The Taliban and Washington signed a peace deal last year, under which the US decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. However, the US has now been rendered clueless by the rapid collapse of the Afghan government.