Taliban calls China a 'friend', promises not to host Uyghur militants in Afghanistan: Report
- Earlier this week, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said that Beijing and Islamabad need to defend regional peace together as the Afghanistan issue has implications for both countries.
The Taliban has said the group sees China as a “friend” to Afghanistan, hoping Chinese investment for reconstruction work in the war-torn country, according to a media report. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told South China Morning Post that the group controls 85 per cent of Afghan territory and would guarantee the safety of Chinese investors and workers.
The Taliban has made rapid territorial gains in Afghanistan amid the final withdrawal of US troops, threatening the progress the country made in the last two decades, especially on social issues. During the interview, Shaheen also reportedly assured China that it would not host Uyghur militants from the Xinjiang province.
The comments came as China is concerned about Afghanistan becoming a hub for the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist outfit waging an insurgency in Xinjiang. China has been sharply critical of the US move to pull out its troops without stabilising the peace process in Afghanistan. This week, Beijing evacuated 210 Chinese nationals from Afghanistan on a chartered flight.
While the Taliban shares close ties with Pakistan, both Beijing and Islamabad face threats from the Islamic militant groups which were part of Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Earlier this week, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said that Beijing and Islamabad need to defend regional peace together as the Afghanistan issue has implications for both countries. China asked its close ally Pakistan to step up cooperation to contain the security risks in the war-torn country following the withdrawal of the foreign forces.
Shaheen said the Taliban would also prevent al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group from operating there, reported SCMP. “We have been to China many times and we have good relations with them,” SCMP quoted Shaheen as saying. "If (the Chinese) have investments, of course, we will ensure their safety.”
China has been eying big scale investments in Afghanistan as the country has the world’s largest unexploited reserves of copper, coal, iron, gas, cobalt, mercury, gold, lithium and thorium, valued at over USD one trillion. In 2011, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a $400 million bid to drill three oil fields for 25 years, containing roughly 87 million barrels of oil.