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Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan’s Taliban, in Tianjin, China July 28, 2021. — Xinhua pic via Reuters
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan’s Taliban, in Tianjin, China July 28, 2021. — Xinhua pic via Reuters

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KABUL, Sept 3 — A Taliban spokesman said Friday that China has promised to keep its embassy in Afghanistan open and to increase humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged country. 

Abdul Salam Hanafi, a member of the Islamist group’s political office in Doha, Qatar, “held a phone conversation with Wu Jianghao, Deputy Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China,” spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted.

“The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister said that they would maintain their embassy in Kabul, adding our relations would beef up as compared to the past. Afghanistan can play an important role in security and development of the region,” he said.

“China will also continue and increase its humanitarian assistance especially for treatment of Covid-19,” the spokesman continued.

There was no immediate confirmation from Beijing. 

Much of the world has adopted a wait-and-see approach to engagement with the Taliban as they shift gears from Islamist insurgent group to governing power. 

But China has repeatedly slammed what it sees as a hasty and ill-planned withdrawal from Afghanistan by the United States, and has said it is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with the Taliban following their takeover.

China’s embassy in Kabul remains operational, although Beijing began evacuating Chinese citizens from the country months ago as security deteriorated.

But Beijing has not yet recognised the Taliban as the de facto government, and is wary of the militant group providing support to Muslim-minority Uighur separatists looking to infiltrate its sensitive border region of Xinjiang.

For Beijing, a stable and cooperative administration in Kabul would pave the way for an expansion of its overseas infrastructure drive, analysts say.

The Taliban, meanwhile, may consider China a crucial source of investment and economic support.

Chinese companies have also been eyeing Afghanistan’s vast copper and lithium mines, but experts say the perilous security situation means any immediate commodities rush by investors is unlikely. — AFP

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