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October 5, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9577

During September, China-Taliban Relations Continued To Strengthen

October 5, 2021
China | Special Dispatch No. 9577

Throughout September 2021, in numerous meetings with Chinese officials as well as media interviews, Taliban continued to emphasize the Taliban's desire for closer Taliban-China relations, and China has been responding in kind, including with a shipment of humanitarian aid.[1]


(Source: Twitter.com/Zabehulah_M33, September 26, 2021)

The following are summaries of some of these meetings and interviews:

In a September 1, 2021 interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid expressed the Taliban's desire to participate in China's Belt and Road Initiative. He said: "China is our main partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, since [Beijing] is willing to invest and rebuild our country. We care very much about the 'One Belt, One Road' project, which will lead to the revival of the ancient Silk Road. We are also rich in copper resources, and with help from China, the mines could also be brought back into production and modernized. Ultimately, China is our laissez-passer to global markets."[2]

During a September 2 phone conversation between Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao and Abdul Salam Hanafi, the then-deputy head of the Afghan Taliban's political office in Doha, "both sides exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and issues of common concern," according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website.

Wu Jianghao stressed to Hanafi that "the future and destiny of Afghanistan are once again in the hands of the Afghan people" and that "the friendship between China and Afghanistan has stayed true for thousands of years, and China has always respected the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and has pursued a friendly policy toward all the Afghan people." Hanafi called China "a trustworthy friend of Afghanistan" and added: "The Afghan Taliban are willing to further engage in developing friendly relations with China and will never allow any force to use the Afghan territory to threaten China's interests, and will take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Afghanistan." He also underlined that "the cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) advocated by China is conducive to the development and prosperity of Afghanistan and the region at large" and that "Afghanistan hopes to continue to actively support and participate in the BRI."[3]

In an exclusive China Media Group (CMG) interview on September 5 with spokesman Mujahid, Mujahid said that China is more than a very important big power among the countries neighboring Afghanistan – it is also a modern country with a developed economy. Afghanistan, he added, needs foreign investment. For all these reasons, he said, the Taliban hope to make progress in future cooperation with China.[4]

Speaking at a September 6 press conference, Mujahid again expressed the Taliban's hope for cooperation with China, stating that they seek to join the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative.[5]

Also on September 6, Hanafi met with Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu; during the meeting, the two discussed bilateral issues. Wang Yu pledged a continuation of China's humanitarian aid.

The next day, September 7, the Taliban announced an interim government in Afghanistan and declared the country an "Islamic Emirate." Since then, contacts between Chinese representatives and Taliban continued to intensify.

Mohammad Naeem, spokesman for the Taliban's political office, said that at a September 14 meeting between Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), and Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu, the Chinese ambassador announced that Beijing will send $15 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and that China will continue its cooperation with Kabul.[6]


Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at September 14 meeting. (Source: Twitter.com/TOLOnews, September 14, 2021)

The two met again on September 26, to discuss bilateral relations. During the meeting, the Chinese Ambassador called for the development of trade between the two countries.[7]


Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at September 26 meeting.  (Source: Twitter.com/Zabehulah_M33)

China's first shipment of humanitarian aid, primarily blankets and clothing, was delivered September 29 to the Ministry of Refugees, which is headed by Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, the brother of Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani. It is worth noting that the previous week, on September 23, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said that the West should lift economic sanctions on Afghanistan and also called for immediate humanitarian aid.[8] With the delivery of the first shipment of aid, Chinese Ambassador Wang Yu reiterated that China had stepped up efforts for the lifting of the sanctions on the Taliban government.[9]


Caption: "Emergency humanitarian assistance project to Afghanistan (winter supplies component) Implementation Unit: China Meheco Group Co., Ltd." (Source: Twitter.com/ChinaEmbKabul, September 29, 2021)


Ministry of Refugees head Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani at the delivery of Chinese humanitarian aid, next to Ambassador Wang. (Source: Twitter.com/ChinaEmbKabul, September 29, 2021)

 

[1] See also MEMRI Daily Brief No. 319, The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) And The Taliban Are 'Old Friends', September 29, 2021.

[2] Repubblica.it/esteri/2021/09/01/news/afghanistan_il_portavoce_dei_talebani_zabiullah_mujahid_chiediamo_all_italia_di_riconoscerci
_la_cina_ci_finanziera_-316162722/, September 1, 2021.

[3] Fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/t1904432.shtml, September 2, 2021.

[4] M.news.cctv.com/2021/09/06/ARTIHaw51wfYCgR55D6Mto0A210906.shtml, September 6, 2021.

[5] Asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Afghanistan-turmoil/Taliban-rolls-out-red-carpet-to-China-s-Belt-and-Road-Initiative, September 12, 2021.

[6] Twitter.com/TOLOnews/status/1437736399059529730, September 14, 2021.

[7] Twitter.com/Zabehulah_M33/status/1442094785255329795, September 26, 2021.

[8] Globaltimes.cn/page/202109/1234912.shtml#.YUwLcFDvc2Q.twitter, September 23, 2021.

[9] Twitter.com/BakhtarNA/status/1443134622938894345, September 29, 2021.

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