The Chinese Communist Party said it looked forward to continuing its “friendship and cooperation” with Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of nearly the entire country, although it stopped short of recognizing the militants as the legitimate rulers of the country.
The Taliban largely completed their swift sweep across Afghanistan on Sunday as they took the capital of Kabul amid a frenzied and chaotic U.S. evacuation of its embassy and its rush for the exit. The Chinese government held high-level meetings with Taliban leaders late last month, and Chinese officials and state-run media outlets signaled a growing acceptance of the Taliban’s takeover, which continued Monday.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that China “respects the wishes and choices of the Afghan people” following the Taliban’s return to power nearly 20 years after it was ousted by the United States, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Hua said that China has “maintained contact and communication with the Taliban” in dodging whether China would recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban’s rule.
“China respects Afghan people’s right to decide their own destiny and future, and is willing to continue to develop friendship and cooperation with Afghanistan,” Hua said, adding, “Afghanistan’s Taliban has expressed many times a desire for good relations with China, with an expectation that China will take part in Afghanistan’s rebuilding and development process, and will not allow any forces to use Afghanistan’s soil to harm China. We welcome this.”
Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban, whose rule of the country in the 1990s and whose two decades of insurgent territorial control have been marked by brutality and repression, claimed this weekend that the Taliban would be holding talks aimed at an “open, inclusive, Islamic government.”
“China hopes that the Taliban will implement its previous vows to establish through negotiation an open and inclusive Islamic government and act responsibly to ensure the safety of Afghan citizens and foreign missions in Afghanistan,” Hua said. “China expects these statements to be implemented to ensure the situation in Afghanistan achieves a smooth transition, curbs all kinds of terrorist and criminal activities, and allows the Afghan people to be far away from war and to rebuild their beautiful homeland.”
Chaos continued at Hamid Karzai International Airport Monday as the U.S. attempted to evacuate U.S. personnel and approved Afghan allies, with the airport and the runway swamped by hundreds of Afghans attempting to flee the country.
The State Department and Pentagon released a joint statement Sunday night, saying, “Over the next 48 hours, we will have expanded our security presence to nearly 6,000 troops, with a mission focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control.”
More than five dozen countries including the U.S. also issued a statement late Sunday calling on “all parties to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country” and arguing, “The Afghan people deserve to live in safety, security and dignity. We in the international community stand ready to assist them.”
China, along with Russia, Pakistan, and Iran, were not signatories.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in late July that China’s role in Afghanistan could be a positive one.
The Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan warned Chinese citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country at least twice back in June, but Hua tried to exude calm on Monday, saying the embassy was “operating as usual” and that while most Chinese nationals had returned to China, a few still remained, adding, “The embassy will keep in close contact with them. They are all safe now.”
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Beijing, Javid Ahmad Qaem, reportedly said Monday that he was not currently planning on leaving China to return to Afghanistan.
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy