“China ready to accept Taliban as a political force”, says Chinese envoy to Pakistan

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News Analysis |

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, while talking in a conference at Peshawar University, has said that his country is ready to acknowledge Taliban as a political force in the backdrop of their participation in a formal dialogue with the United States of America.

While responding to a question regarding an overt lack of enthusiasm from the Chinese side toward the ongoing process, the ambassador said that China is in contact with both the Afghan government and the Taliban. In fact, a special Chinese envoy is set to meet with Taliban delegation in Doha, he added.

China is largely in news these days because of inhuman treatment of Uighur Muslims as there was a separatist movement initiated by Muslims living in Xinjiang province of China due to their different ethnic origin as compared to Chines mainland.

“China will pick them (Taliban) as a political force because they are now part of the Afghan political process and they have some political concerns. They have to be allowed to play a legitimate role in the future political settlement,” he further elaborated his government’s policy on the Afghan peace process being discussed at different forums.

“If possible, China can exert pressure on the Taliban to join the peace process,” ambassador Jing said. “Afghans have been suffering for the last 40 years and they deserve peace and stability,” he further said.

China and Taliban

During the time when Taliban were the only significant force in Kabul ruling across stretches of Afghanistan, China came close to accepting the Taliban government and “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, as the state was called during the group’s regime. United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan were the only other states who had already recognized the Taliban regime.

Read more: Who will control Afghanistan?

But two events preventing China from formally accepting the Taliban regime. First is the event where historic site in Hazarajat region, Buddhas of Bamyan, were blasted on orders of Mullah Umar, which many believe was something he reluctantly did under the influence of Al Qaeda.

China, which has the world’s largest Buddhist population, was taken aback by this event and later 9/11 proved to be the final nail in the coffin folding Chinese plan to acknowledge the Taliban regime. After the attack on World Trade Center, UAE, and Saudi Arabia also withdrew their support on September 22, 2001, on account of Taliban harboring Al Qaeda, the group involved in 9/11.

The National Security of China Linked to Afghanistan

China is largely in news these days because of inhuman treatment of Uighur Muslims as there was a separatist movement initiated by Muslims living in Xinjiang province of China due to their different ethnic origin as compared to the Chinese mainland. A fraction of Uighur separatists are known to take part in the battle against the U.S in Afghanistan and China considers these fighters as a national security threat.

Last year there a Hong Kong-based publication reported that China is mulling over establishing a military base inside Afghanistan to look after its national security, which was later denied by China.

On top of that, there is a growing menace of ISIS in Afghanistan, which paradoxically has brought both Taliban and Afghan security forces to a common objective of rooting out ISIS. The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan has brought together regional countries i.e. China, Pakistan, and Russia together in order to curb the growing threat of ISIS.

Last year a Hong Kong-based publication reported that China is mulling over establishing a military base inside Afghanistan to look after its national security, which was later denied by China. Currently, China is keeping all options open for itself and waiting to see what the ongoing process of negotiations unfolds.

Read more: The Uyghur militant threat: China cracks down and mulls policy changes

As opposed to the general notion, China is very much active and wants its concerns to be duly addressed in post-America settlement of Afghanistan but instead of being a direct party, its close friend is Pakistan making sure that China’s interest is also taken care of.

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