China calls upon Taliban to steer Afghan peace bid

Published on Jul 29, 2021 02:12 AM IST

State councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi also urged the Taliban to crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group it alleges is fuelling unrest and separatism in China’s Xinjiang province while operating from Afghanistan.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo during their meeting in Tianjin, China.(AP)
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo during their meeting in Tianjin, China.(AP)
BySutirtho Patranobis, Beijing/islamabad

China on Wednesday told a visiting Taliban delegation that it hopes the insurgent group will play a critical role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the backdrop of US forces leaving the country.

State councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi also urged the Taliban to crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group it alleges is fuelling unrest and separatism in China’s Xinjiang province while operating from Afghanistan.

Wang met Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s political chief, in Tianjin, a city some 100km from Beijing.

Baradar said the Taliban are willing to establish an inclusive political structure in Afghanistan that will protect human rights as well as the interests of women and children.

Baradar, who heads the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and is the lead negotiator for talks with the US, is leading a nine-member Taliban delegation on a two-day visit to China.

Calling the Afghan Taliban a “critical military and political force in the country”, Wang said the group is “expected to play an important role in the peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process of Afghanistan”.

“The sudden withdrawal of forces by the US and Nato from Afghanistan marks the failure of the US’s Afghanistan policy, and Afghan people now face an important opportunity to stabilise and develop their own country,” Wang was quoted as telling Baradar in a readout issued by the Chinese foreign ministry.

On the issue of ETIM, Wang said he hoped the Taliban would crack down as it was a “direct threat to China’s national security”. Baradar, as per the Chinese readout, said, “China has always been a trustworthy friend of the Afghan people.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan PM Imran Khan said the US “really messed it up” in Afghanistan as he questioned the US motive for the 2001 invasion and its attempts at seeking a political solution with the Taliban from a position of weakness. He said the only good solution is through a political settlement that is “inclusive”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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