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China sends envoy to Afghanistan, Taliban sees opportunity for ties

China sends envoy to Afghanistan, Taliban sees opportunity for ties

China sends envoy to Afghanistan, Taliban sees opportunity for ties

China sends envoy to Afghanistan, Taliban sees opportunity for ties

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  • China names first ambassador to Afghanistan since Taliban takeover.
  • Taliban sees appointment as signal for other nations to establish ties.
  • Analysts say move is part of China’s strategy to solidify influence in region.

China has made a significant move by appointing Zhao Xing as its ambassador to Afghanistan, marking the first such appointment by any country since the Taliban regained control in 2021.

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The Taliban has portrayed this appointment as a signal for other nations to establish diplomatic ties with its government.

It’s worth noting that, so far, no other country has officially recognized the Taliban government due to concerns about human rights violations and the suppression of women’s rights.

Analysts believe that Zhao Xing’s appointment is part of China’s strategy to solidify its influence in the region.

Afghanistan occupies a pivotal position within the region, which is crucial for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

China has expressed its interest in investing in Afghanistan’s vast natural resources, estimated to be worth around $1 trillion, including valuable deposits of copper, lithium, and gold.

Farwa Aamer, Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute, suggests that China’s move to name an ambassador is a diplomatic show of strength, especially when many Western countries remain hesitant to engage with the Taliban.

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China’s foreign ministry has stated that it will continue to promote dialogue and cooperation with Afghanistan, emphasizing that its policy towards the country is consistent.

They clarify that Zhao Xing’s appointment is part of a routine rotation of Chinese ambassadors to Afghanistan.

Zhao Xing was received by Taliban leaders in a grand ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, replacing Wang Yu, who completed his ambassadorship last month.

The appointment comes amid international criticism from organizations like the UN and rights groups regarding the Taliban’s treatment of women and their decision to reinstate public executions and lashings.

The Taliban’s restrictions on women’s rights under their rule are among the most severe globally.

Despite these concerns, China has strong economic and security interests in maintaining diplomatic ties with the Taliban.

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Militants along the Afghanistan-China border, particularly in the Xinjiang region, have previously targeted Chinese projects, partly in retaliation for China’s treatment of its Muslim minority, including Uyghurs.

China has faced allegations of mass detentions, forced labor, and abuse against Uyghurs, which it vehemently denies.

There is also apprehension among the few thousand Uyghurs who have fled to Afghanistan over the years, fearing that China’s growing influence in the country could jeopardize their safety.

Earlier this year, the Taliban signed a significant energy extraction agreement with a Chinese company, marking the first major foreign firm contract since their takeover.

Additionally, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan agreed to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor into Afghanistan, further solidifying China’s role in the region.

The international community will closely watch Afghanistan’s role in the upcoming Belt and Road Initiative conference in October and its broader involvement in this ambitious project.

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