Today (July 28) a delegation of Taliban met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) in Tianjin.
According to Chinese government news outlet Global Times, Wang Yi held talks with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the former deputy of Mullah Mohammed Omar. Baradar serves as the chief of the Taliban’s diplomatic office in Qatar. In February 2020, Baradar signed the agreement on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
“China, Afghanistan’s largest neighbouring country, has always respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Wang was quoted as saying.
“[China] has always upheld [the principle] of non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, and it has always pursued a policy of friendship with the whole Afghan people … Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people,” he added.
Wang described the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan as a “defeat for the United States’ policy towards Afghanistan” (美对阿政策的失败), and stated that the Afghan people have “an important opportunity to stabilize and develop their country.”
He said that the Taliban are an “influential military and political force in Afghanistan” and expressed his hope that the Taliban will play an important role in Afghanistan’s “peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction.” He called on the Taliban to engage in peaceful negotiations with other Afghan forces.
Wang urged the Taliban to repudiate the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). “The East Turkestan Islamic Movement has been put on the list of terrorist organisations by the United Nations, and it poses a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity,” he said. “Cracking down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is a common responsibility of the international community.”
Wang called on the Taliban to “draw a clear line between themselves and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and all terrorist organisations” (同“东伊运”等一切恐怖组织彻底划清界限).
According to the US Council on Foreign Relations, the ETIM is a “Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uighurs, members of the Turkic-speaking ethnic majority in northwest China’s Xinjiang province.”
The group aims at creating an independent state called East Turkestan that would cover an area including parts of Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Xinjiang.
The US listed the ETIM as a terrorist organization in 2002 during “a period of increased U.S.-Chinese cooperation on antiterrorism in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.”
The Trump administration removed the ETIM from the US terrorism list in 2020. China has been accused of violating human rights in Xinjiang and putting over 1 million Uighurs in internment camps under the pretext of anti-terrorism.
Baradar told Wang that China is a “trustworthy, good friend of the Afghan people.” He stressed that the Afghan Taliban “will absolutely not allow any force to use Afghan territory to conduct activities harming China,” the Global Times quoted him as saying.
He expressed his hope that China will play a bigger role in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and economic development, and stated that the Taliban will strive to create a suitable climate for investment.
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