Wang Yi, the country’s foreign minister, met with senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar for talks about the future of Afghanistan in the Chinese northeastern province of Tianjin. The US and its NATO allies are currently in the process of withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan after 20 years. They are expected to complete their departure from the country by August 31.
The withdrawal has seen a resurgence of the Islamic militants, who in recent weeks have routed Afghan government troops and recaptured large swathes of territory.
The Taliban advance has placed enormous pressure on the central government in Kabul, as it desperately tries to shore up its waning authority, amid fears it will soon capitulate.
With an eye firmly on the future, China sought to establish friendly ties with the Taliban leadership and plot a path of mutual cooperation.
Beijing’s top diplomat insisted that China had always respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence before criticising Washington’s failed policies in the region.
“The hasty withdrawal of the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan actually marks the failure of the U.S. policy toward Afghanistan,” Mr Wang said.
The foreign minister called for a united and peaceful Afghanistan, saying “the Afghan people have an important opportunity to achieve national stability and development.”
He envisaged a key role for the Islamists in this process, describing them as a “pivotal military and political force” that was expected to play an important role in bringing about reconciliation and reconstruction.
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The northwest province is home to China’s Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslims.
After a series of violent uprisings in 2009, Beijing enforced a crackdown on the Uighurs, rounding up large sections of the population and interning them in so-called “re-eduction camps”.
China has been accused of carrying out genocide against the ethnic group, something it strenuously denies.