China's Foreign Minister met with senior leaders of the Taliban in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on Wednesday in the latest sign of warming ties
between Beijing and the resurgent Islamist group. During a meeting with Taliban's co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the group's political committee, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Taliban as an important military and political force in Afghanistan, and that he expected the Taliban to play an important role in the country's "peace, reconciliation and reconstruction process," according to China's Foreign Ministry.
Following the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has rapidly expanded its presence -- and now controls large swathes of country. The speed at which Afghan security forces have lost control to the Taliban has shocked many, and led to concerns the capital Kabul could be next to fall. All foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by August 31
Wednesday's meeting, which was also attended by the heads of the Taliban's religious and publicity committees, is the latest move by the Chinese government to strengthen its relationship
with the Islamist group.