PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying

On August 15 Taliban forces entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and occupied the abandoned presidential palace, ending a military campaign that had begun in early May.

The US-backed Afghan authorities collapsed as President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government figures fled the country. The Taliban are expected to announce the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the formal name of the country under their rule before the US and its allies toppled the regime in 2001.

The Taliban have declared that they will hold talks with other political groups to form an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”

Today (August 16) Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), signalled Beijing’s intention to seek close ties with the Taliban government.

“We respect the wishes and choices of the Afghan people,” Hua stated at a press conference. “The chaos of war in Afghanistan has lasted for more than 40 years. Ending the war and achieving peace is the common desire of the more than 30 million Afghan people. It is also the hope of the international community and countries in the region.”

Hua said that the PRC had taken notice of the Taliban’s statement that the war in Afghanistan is over, and welcomed the Taliban’s reassurances that they will “protect the safety of citizens and foreign embassies in Afghanistan.” She urged the Taliban to “keep in check every kind of terrorist and criminal conduct.”

She said that the PRC’s embassy in Afghanistan is “functioning normally” and that most PRC citizens in the country had been evacuated. She also mentioned the meeting between PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a Taliban delegation in Tianjin on July 28.

“The Afghan Taliban have repeatedly stated that they hope to build good relations with China, and hope that China will participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development,” Hua said, adding that the Taliban had reassured Beijing that they will “never allow any force to use Afghan territory to harm China.”

She further said that the PRC has “never interefered in Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has never interefered in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.”

In recent years the PRC has sought to exert economic and political influence over countries around the globe. In Afghanistan’s neighbour Pakistan, for instance, Beijing has cultivated close ties with local elites, and invested billions in infrastructure and the energy sector through Chinese state-owned enterprises.

In the media sector, stakeholders like China’s government news agency Xinhua have worked with local Pakistani media outlets to “localize information dissemination and shape Pakistani public opinion on important international issues in ways that are in sync with Beijing’s worldview,” according to Carnegie Endowment.

Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his support for the Chinese government’s policies towards the Uighur Muslim population. Beijing has been accused of human rights abuses against the Uighurs. Khan also praised the country’s one-party system as a better model than electoral democracy.