Key role seen for China in ensuring Afghan stability

An Baijie

BEIJING’S recent reception of a senior Afghan military officer and the reported visit by a Taliban delegation show that China is playing an important role in maintaining stability in the region, analysts said.
While meeting in Beijing on Sunday with Qadam Shah Shahim, chief of staff of the General Staff of the Afghan National Army, Defense Minister Chang Wanquan expressed gratitude toward Afghanistan for the country’s support in fighting the terrorist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, according to a statement released by the ministry on Tuesday.
Shahim said Afghanistan would like to deepen cooperation with China in fighting terrorists including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the statement said. According to a Reuters report, a delegation led by Abbas Stanikzai, head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, visited Beijing from July 18 to 22 at the invitation of the Chinese government.
The report, quoting a senior member of the Taliban, said the Taliban delegation “informed Chinese officials about the occupation by invading forces and their atrocities on the Afghan people”.
The Foreign Ministry did not respond, as of press time on Monday night, to China Daily’s request for confirmation of the Taliban delegation’s visit.
As China’s close neighbor, Afghanistan plays an important role in jointly fighting Islamist extremists, an issue related to the stability of China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Jin Yong, deputy chief of the School of Foreign Studies at Communication University of China, said that through connecting with both the ruling party of Afghanistan and its opposition, China is taking a more pragmatic diplomatic approach to pursuing national interests. Afghanistan is a key station on the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-raised proposal to revive the ancient trade route of the Silk Road, so it’s necessary for China to communicate with the country’s different political forces to ensure implementation of the initiative, he said.
Different Afghan political groups are seeking support from China, showing that China’s influence in the region is quite important, he added.
Li Weijian, a researcher of foreign policy studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said that unlike the United States, which labeled the Taliban as a terrorist group, China can have talks with both the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The moderate factions in the Taliban could be an important force for the peaceful resolution of Afghan problems, he added.

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