mandag 23. august 2021

Beijing will approach Afghan affairs – and the Taliban – more cautiously than people think

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.