China's friendly overtures to Taliban poses imminent risk than opportunities

·2-min read
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi meets with Head of the Afghan Taliban Political Commission Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi meets with Head of the Afghan Taliban Political Commission Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

Hong Kong, August 17 (ANI): Following the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban, China said that it is willing to develop "friendly relations" with the terrorist outfit, but the overtures pose more risk than it offers opportunity.

Post the fall of Kabul, there has been much talk about how China could seize the moment to fill the vacuum left behind by the US and expand its presence and influence there, reported CNN.

The arguments intensified following the high-profile meeting between Taliban leaders and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month, where Wang declared the Taliban would "play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan."

But for China, a neighbor of Afghanistan with substantial investment in the region, the security challenges posed by the abrupt return of the Taliban are far more pressing than any strategic interests down the road, reported CNN.

"China does not tend to perceive Afghanistan through the prism of opportunities; it is almost entirely about managing threats," said Andrew Small, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, in an interview with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

China is particularly concerned that Afghanistan would become a base for fighting for independence for the largely Muslim (Uyghurs) region of Xinjiang -- a priority issue Wang raised with Taliban leaders during their meeting last month.

In response, the Taliban pledged that it would "never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to engage in acts detrimental to China."

But the security risks are not bound to China's borders. In recent years, China has invested heavily in Central Asia through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for trade and infrastructure program.

A spillover effect of the Taliban's rise to power on Islamist militants could potentially threaten Chinese economic and strategic interests in the wider region, reported CNN.

That security threat was underscored last month when nine Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing in Pakistan -- one of the deadliest attacks on overseas Chinese nationals in recent years.

Islamabad said the attack had been carried out by "the Pakistani Taliban out of Afghanistan," CNN reported.

Beijing's unease with the potential fallout in Afghanistan was reflected in statements from its Foreign Ministry, which has repeatedly criticized the US for acting "irresponsibly" in its "hasty withdrawal." (ANI)

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