By: Jianli Yang – August 19, 2021

The Afghan government backed by the United States collapsed after losing its military protection, and the speed was jaw-dropping. While international political stakeholders have rushed to respond, China seems to have made arrangements earlier than other countries. Still, its future options in Afghanistan are under scrutiny.

In July, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Taliban representatives in Tianjin. This was an important event following the direct talks between the U.S. and the Taliban in 2018, as it greatly enhanced the Taliban’s international standing and signaled that the group is being recognized as a major political force on the global stage. Weeks before, Taliban representatives had also visited other capitals, including Moscow and Tehran, but had not been formally received by the countries’ foreign ministers. While Beijing has had several interactions with the Afghan Taliban over the years, the meeting in Tianjin was the most high-profile one.

At the regular press conference of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on the day President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan, spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked if the Chinese government intends to recognize – or under what circumstances will it recognize – the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. In her answer, Hua expressed Beijing’s willingness to develop a good relationship with the Taliban, stating that “China respects the will of the Afghan people.”… [Continue Reading]