By Nicole Hao
A Taliban spokesperson has praised Beijing for its role in Afghan politics during an interview with Chinese state media.
The Chinese regime can play “an important role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, told Chinese state-run CGTN in English on Thursday. “And also in peace reconciliation, their role was very constructive.”
“Beijing has appointed a special envoy to Afghanistan, with whom we had regular contacts,” he said.
Shaheen said that the Taliban and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had long been in contact.
He also revealed that Beijing had appointed a new official as a contact person with the Taliban.
“We have contact with him. Recently, our delegation had a meeting with him,” Shaheen said.
The interview comes after the Taliban took control of the country after a rapid series of advances, weeks before the U.S. forces were due to withdraw from the country. Since the takeover, the regime has embraced the group, and seized on the chaotic U.S. withdrawal for propaganda purposes.
The Chinese regime hasn’t been involved in any of Afghanistan’s conflicts in the past century, unlike the United States and its NATO allies who tried to establish and defend democracy for 20 years, and the Soviet Union which occupied the country from late 1979 to early 1989.
But the CCP has supported the Taliban both in arms and technology, according to a report by the Population Research Institute from September 2001. As an example, the report said that Huawei, China’s largest telecommunication company, allegedly contributed to building telecommunications networks for the Taliban, which supported Osama bin Laden and his terrorist attacks against the United States. Huawei has denied this allegation.
After the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15, Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior leader of the Taliban who has access to the group’s decision-making, told Reuters that the Taliban regime would be a theocracy and have a similar power structure as per 1996 to 2001 when it then ruled the country.
Chinese foreign affairs minister Wang Yi met with Taliban leaders earlier on July 28. During the meeting, the Taliban assured Beijing that it would not harbor militants who may launch attacks into China’s far west Xinjiang region.
Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the regime has declared its willingness to establish “friendly ties” with the group. It has not yet formally recognized the group.
“China respects the Afghan people’s intention and choice … China will keep contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, on Aug. 16.
At the same time, the CCP regime and its state-run media welcomed the Taliban’s rise and exulted in the American’s “defeat” in Afghanistan.
“The United States indeed is very much like a ‘paper tiger,’” Xinhua commented on Aug. 16.
It mocked the United States saying that the failure of the democracy in Afghanistan shows that it is weak, and claimed that China controlled its border tightly, “even a bird is hard to fly over from Afghanistan.”
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