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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with the Taliban’s Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, then head of the Taliban’s political office, in Tianjin, China, July 28, 2021 (photo by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China).

The Limits of China’s Engagement in Afghanistan

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

In the wake of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan amid the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces and their allies, China has rhetorically seized upon America’s failures. The official Xinhua news agency lambasted the United States as “the world’s largest exporter of unrest,” arguing that “its hegemonic policies” have led to far too many human tragedies, and that the fall of Kabul marked the collapse of America’s international image and credibility. 

Beijing also appears to be extending an enthusiastic hand to the Taliban. In late July, several of the group’s leaders visited China and met directly with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who referred to the Taliban as “a pivotal military and political force” that is expected to play “an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan,” according to a subsequent Chinese readout of the meeting. More recently, following the fall of Kabul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said it has established “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban,” and that it seeks to “play a constructive role in the peace and reconstruction of the country.” The Taliban, for their part, have also made known their desire for Chinese investment in the country and help from Beijing in the reconstruction process. ...

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