China in Afghanistan would be a real danger

China’s foreign minister has met a Taliban delegation, signalling warming ties as the United States-led foreign forces continue their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Wang Yi on Wednesday told the nine visiting Taliban representatives, which included the group’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, that Beijing expected it to “play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan”, according to a readout of the meeting from the foreign ministry.

The Afghan Taliban, although they already held sway in rural parts of Afghanistan, have now come completely out of hibernation in a bid to rule the roost in the war-torn country. As a result, the Taliban have gained ground in several key towns and border crossings, and now claim to control over 80 percent of the country. Fears are growing that it is only a matter of time before the Taliban hoist their flag in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Beijing has viewed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as a boon, while close ties with a future government in Kabul could also pave the way for an expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative into Afghanistan and through the Central Asian republics.

On Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman sought to further underscore the differences between Washington’s and Beijing’s policies.

“China has throughout adhered to non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs … Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people,” he said, adding it was a stark contrast to the “failure of US policy towards Afghanistan”.