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China lending a helping hand

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China lending a helping hand

Synopsis

The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan was successfully held recently. Focusing on the situation in Afghanistan and future, the meeting issued a joint statement covering five areas: political and diplomatic fields, economic and humanitarian fields, counter-terrorism and security, refugees, and institution building. This not only clearly demonstrates the determination of neighbouring countries to strengthen communication and work together to help Afghanistan achieve stable development, but also conveys the concerns and expectations of the international community toward Afghans.

In the current complex and volatile international environment, the meeting provided new ideas for addressing security challenges, which is not only significant to Afghanistan, but also important for the international community as a reference.

The first Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan last September officially launched the coordination and cooperation mechanism between Afghanistan’s neighbours. At the time, the irresponsible withdrawal of the US and its allies, coupled with the major changes on the Afghan political landscape, had left more than 30 million people in the country struggling to cope with multiple challenges, including, among others, a humanitarian crisis, economic difficulties, access to basic essentials and the Covid pandemic. In response, the country’s neighbours came to the political consensus of working together to help Afghanistan, believing that they as neighbours have a unique role to play in providing a favourable external environment for the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan. This new mechanism is essential at this critical juncture when Afghanistan turns from chaos to peace.

In less than a year, Afghanistan’s neighbours have held three foreign ministers’ meetings, reflecting the great importance they attach to the Afghan issue. Under the mechanism, a lot of valuable work has been carried out and many important consensuses reached. At the same time, it has maintained active communication with the Interim Government of Afghanistan and cooperated with various international mechanisms on the Afghan issue to bring about positive development of the overall situation in Afghanistan. These efforts have been widely recognised by the international community.

Even as Afghanistan continues to face severe challenges across a range of areas such as a humanitarian crisis, economic recovery, counter-terrorism and national governance, what the US does has aggravated the problems. In February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to “share” $7 billion of assets deposited in America by the Afghan central bank, refusing to return this wealth to the Afghan interim government. This move has been strongly criticised by Afghanistan and the international community.

More worryingly, Afghanistan seems to have been forgotten by the Western world in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Today, more than 24 million people across Afghanistan need humanitarian support for them to survive, but the UN goal of providing $4.44 billion in humanitarian fund to Afghanistan has seen little progress. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while watching out for Ukraine, had to appeal to the international community for support to the Afghans to prevent another humanitarian crisis.

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This latest international meeting in China focusing on Afghanistan was both important and timely. This is a reminder to the international community that the Afghan issue is still high on the current international peace and security agenda. The world should not forget Afghanistan, and that the US, the main source of Afghanistan’s problems, should not deliberately ignore and stay away from the Afghan issue.

It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The US and the Western world should take up their primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, and return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible. To truly help Afghanistan get through the difficulties, the more efforts to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis, the better, and the fewer unnecessary moves to create troubles, the merrier.

The Third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan is another important contribution made by China to achieve enduring peace and stable development in Afghanistan. In order to make the Meeting even more productive, and promote the implementation of the outcomes of previous meetings, China has been working for agreement to launch the mechanism for regular meetings among special envoys for Afghanistan of the neighbouring countries, and establish three working groups on political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, and security and stability affairs. Foreign ministers from the Afghan interim government, Qatar and Indonesia were invited to the Meeting for the first time. And China presided over the meeting addressing the “China-US-Russia plus” consultation mechanism on Afghanistan. The world could see the diplomatic efforts China has made in this regard.

It fully shows that no matter how the international situation may evolve and change, China, as a responsible country and one of the neighbors of Afghanistan, will not change its foreign policy toward its neighbors, nor its diplomatic principle for upholding justice.

On the one hand, China acknowledges the efforts of the Afghan interim government from the perspective of history and development, and works with the international community to exert positive influence on the development of the situation in Afghanistan, and better integrate the country into the mainstream international community.

On the other hand, China opposes the abuse of sanctions, and is committed to resolving differences through dialogue and consultation, and takes the meeting as an opportunity for all parties to build consensus on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. China encourages Afghanistan to establish a more inclusive and open political architecture, take more moderate and steady internal and external policies, and combat terrorism effectively.

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Afghanistan has been through a long, dark winter and is now embracing a hopeful spring. There is reason to believe that the successful convening of the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan will bring new and greater hope for Afghanistan to navigate its current predicament and get back on track toward sound development, and explore a development path that is in line with not only their own national conditions but also the trend of the times at an early date.

Courtesy: Global Times

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