China announces £22m emergency aid to Afghanistan, including 3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses

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China has pledged emergency aid worth 200 million yuan (£22m) to Afghanistan, including three million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and food supplies.

This was the first official aid announced for Afghanistan by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi at a meeting on Wednesday with his counterparts from Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Afghanistan is “standing at the crossroads,” the Chinese foreign minister said, adding that it faces humanitarian crises including the Covid-19 pandemic, reported Al Jazeera.

The aid will include the vaccine doses, grain, winter supplies and medicines, Mr Wang said, urging the Taliban to restore order in the country.

“After security and other conditions are met, China is willing to help Afghanistan build projects that help to improve people’s livelihood,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin was quoted as saying by the newspaper Hong Kong Free Press.

China’s assistance to the south Asian country comes shortly after Beijing showed its willingness to maintain communication with the new interim government formed by the Taliban.

It welcomed the Taliban’s decision to form an establishment and said it was a “necessary step to restore order” in the country.

Stressing on its support for the militant group, the spokesperson added: “China attaches great importance to the announcement by the Taliban of the establishment of an interim government and some important personnel arrangements.”

China and Russia have both been supportive of Taliban rule over Afghanistan.

The Islamist group has called China its most important partner and recognises the country as a key ally to get economic aid that will help rebuild the country, after the western-backed government collapsed last month.

The announcement of the interim government “ended more than three weeks of anarchy in Afghanistan,” Mr Wenbin said.

China has been critical of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan and has attacked president Joe Biden for a messy withdrawal that was “wrecking havoc” in the country.

“What the US did in Afghanistan over the past two decades is a textbook example which shows us the consequences of wanton military intervention and attempts to impose one’s own ideology and values on others,” Mr Wenbin said.

The US, meanwhile, has only issued a guarded statement on the formation of the Taliban’s interim government, saying the insurgent group will be judged by its actions.

“We understand that the Taliban has presented this as a caretaker Cabinet. However, we will judge the Taliban by its actions, not words. We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government,” it said.

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