China Is Keeping Its Options Open on Working With the Taliban

China Is Keeping Its Options Open on Working With the Taliban
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with a delegation of the Taliban leadership in Tianjin, China, July 28, 2021 (photo by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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While the rest of the world continues to be shocked at the harrowing scenes and images accompanying the U.S. military evacuation from Afghanistan, Chinese nationalist media pundits like Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the hawkish, state-owned tabloid Global Times, have made little effort to hide their glee over what they consider to be a humiliation for the U.S. “Chinese netizens joked that the power transition in Afghanistan is even more smooth than the presidential transition in the US,” he wrote mockingly on Twitter on Monday, after former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was reported to have fled the country by helicopter and the Taliban consolidated its takeover of the capital city, Kabul. “This is the failure of the US and the West. A big, direct slap on the face of the Biden administration,” he added in another tweet.

Beijing sees the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan as an opportunity to advance its own political and geostrategic goals. Chinese officials have highlighted the failure of U.S. foreign policy in the post-9/11 era, while spinning the conditions surrounding the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a cautionary tale for Taiwan. They have also urged the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan to combat Uyghur separatists, whom Beijing portrays as a threat to China’s sovereignty. 

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