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China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi Offers to Host Peace Talks Between Afghan Government and Taliban

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has offered to conduct peace talks between the Afghanistan Government and Taliban. He made the offer while speaking to his counterpart in  Afghanistan, Mohammad Haneef Atmar on May 17.

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian also supported Mr Wang Yi’s statement in a daily interaction with the media. He said, “China is ready to facilitate intra-Afghan talks and will provide necessary conditions for negotiation in China.”

Xinhua, China’s state affiliated media reported Mr Wang assuring Mr Atmar that “China will continue to support the Afghan government in playing a leading role in the country’s peace and reconciliation process.” 

As reported by Xinhua, Mr Wang is also to have expressed hope that Afghanistan’s future leadership will pursue a “moderate Muslim policy”, promote a foreign policy of peace, maintain friendship with neighbouring countries and firmly combat all forms of terrorism.

Wang Yi also held talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Pakistan is a partner of China and was a key state in the United States’ (US) operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan is seen as a backer of Taliban. Stability and peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan are also important for China’s ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to succeed. 

The statement by China comes amidst the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. The US and Taliban reached a deal in 2020, paving the way for the US to finally end the “forever war” in Afghanistan. By September 11, 2021, all the US forces are planned to leave Afghanistan.

China is looking to increase its presence in Afghanistan. A statement released by China’s consulate in Mumbai says China is looking to deepen engagement between China and Afghanistan on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighborly Relations.

In the phone call, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Mr Atmar hope to conduct “strategic dialogue and communication” on counter-terrorism cooperation. They also  discussed further strengthening bilateral relations and advancing regional cooperation.

China’s relations with Afghanistan have historically been warm. However, since the US invasion of Afghanistan, Afghanistan-China relationship has been limited. With the Us backing out, China now has an opportunity to renew  its relations with Kabul. Since 2017, MChina’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has initiated the so-called “shuttle diplomacy” between the two countries.  Stability in Afghanistan is also important for China because the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM) operating in Uighur is reported to have ties with al-Qaeda.  ETIM was banned by the UN and was on the terror list  of the US. However, the US removed the ban on ETIM in November 2020, increasing China’s Worries.