China sprang a surprise on Wednesday, July 28, but not quite an unprecedented state of things, too.
New Delhi: The China-Taliban-Pakistan axis was a known thing, but it curiously coincided on a day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar to discuss a possible policy for Afghanistan.
“The Taliban in Afghanistan is a pivotal military and political force in the country and will play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction there,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who played host to a Taliban delegation.
"State Councilor Wang pointed out that the Taliban is an important military and political force in Afghanistan and is expected to play an important role in the country's peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process. We hope that the Afghan Taliban will put the interests of the country and nation first, hold high the banner of peace talks, set the goal of peace, build a positive image and pursue an inclusive policy," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.
Head of the Afghan Taliban political committee Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was in Tianjin. The heads of the Afghan Taliban's religious council and publicity committee were also on the delegation.
"The hasty withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan actually marks the failure of the US policy toward Afghanistan," the spokesperson said.
“State Councilor Wang Yi said that China, as Afghanistan's largest neighbour, has always respected Afghanistan's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs and pursued a friendly policy toward the Afghan people. ”
"Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people, and its future should be in the hands of its own people."
It is the first time a senior commander of the Taliban organisation has visited China since the Taliban’s capture of several key districts in Badakhshan and Kandahar provinces.
Taliban fighters claim to have 'taken control of around half the country' up to its border with the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Wang Yi also urged the Taliban to crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an Islamic group, and alleges it is fuelling unrest and separatism in China’s Xinjiang province from Afghanistan.
Baradar said the Taliban is willing to establish an inclusive political structure in Afghanistan, which protects human rights and the rights and interests of women and children.
In 2019, China had hosted a low-profile meeting with a Taliban delegation which met Deng Xijun, the special envoy for Afghanistan.
It is said, China has always been a trustworthy friend of the Afghan people and the Taliban.
This development makes clear the axis between Beijing-Islamabad and the Taliban.
The US has sought to downplay the episode.
"I think many countries in–immediately neighboring Afghanistan and in the broader region, including China, have interests in Afghanistan. No one, whether it’s the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Central Asian countries–no one has an interest in Afghanistan falling into an enduring civil war. No one has an interest in a military takeover of the country by the Taliban, the restoration of an Islamic emirate," visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a television channel.
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