China Provides Afghan Aid Modestly And Cautiously

CHINA’S OFFER OF 200 million yuan ($31 million) worth of aid to the new Taliban government in Afghanistan is modest and cautiously given. Much of it will take the form of grain and other food supplies and vaccines and medicines.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the assistance during a meeting of counterparts from Afghanistan’s neighbours, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, thus distancing China from unilateral action.

Beijing established contact with Taliban officials even before the final US pullout from Afghanistan to ensure stability in the new emirate and prevent any spillover of militant Islamic radicalism into its restive Uighur population in Xinjiang.

Beijing’s continuing belligerent rhetoric towards the United States, critical of its 20-year presence in Afghanistan, may encourage Taliban hopes that China will provide the investment to rebuild the economy of their re-established but war-torn emirate.

However, China’s priority will be to ensure Afghanistan does not become a staging post for terrorists headed eastwards, followed by protecting Chinese businesses already operating there.

That was its strategy with its aid to the previous Kabul government. Providing anything more to its Taliban successor will be regarded with great caution in Beijing until it is clear how the situation in Afghanistan is developing.

Wang’s suggestion at the neighbours’ meeting that the United States and its allies ‘are more obligated than any other country to provide economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, and help Afghanistan maintain stability, prevent chaos and move toward sound development’ only confirms that cautious stance.

Update: Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has told the Global Times that there is no place in Afghanistan for the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) or any other terrorist group ‘with a foreign agenda’, to train, recruit or fundraise, and that many ETIM members had left the country, begging the question of where they have gone.

Shaheen also added to the things Beijing would like to hear by saying said that the Taliban was keen for Afghanistan to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative.

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