Taliban 'receiving Russia and China's support' says Shaheen
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The Taliban managed to enter Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, last weekend, consolidating its power across the country. While the group is yet to set out the terms of its proposed government, representatives have confirmed a focus on Sharia law, which would compel residents to live on Islamic edict. The Taliban treats western nations as enemies – especially the US and its previously occupying allies -, leaving governments in the east to approach them first.
The Chinese government is the first to pursue “constructive” relations with the Taliban, according to the group’s spokesman.
The country – which did not fight in Afghanistan during Russian or US interference – wants “friendly relations”, according to Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman.
The initial interpretation of the move offered by analysts is that the country hopes to deter extremism in its territory.
Ms Chunying confirmed as such, as her government urged the Taliban to “ensure that all kinds of terrorism and crimes can be curbed”.
Intelligence analysts from geopolitical and security intelligence service Dragonfly have broken down China’s other motivations behind peaceful relations with the Taliban.
Max Romer, Asia analyst, said his firm believed China hoped to secure “regional stability”.
But he added China also considers the central Asian country “an important puzzle piece for its regional infrastructure and investment initiative”.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) launched the Belt and Road initiative to connect Asia with Africa and Europe.
In action, the plan hopes to build on the concepts provided by the two-millennia old Silk Road, by establishing land and maritime networks and integrating networks.
The PRC’s goal is to increase trade and ultimately stimulate its already exponential economic growth.
Chinese officials will want Afghanistan’s “strategically important resources” for the growing initiative, Mr Romer said.
Afghanistan holds significant deposits of minerals and natural gas, lithium among them.
Mr Romer agreed China is “probably also hoping to gain prioritised access” to these deposits.
China’s next concern, he said, is national security.
The country now shares a 47-mile-long border with the Taliban that connects the countries via Xinjiang province.
Mr Romer added Chinese officials want to prevent “militancy” spilling into the Uyghur Muslim regions.
He said: “From a security perspective, the Chinese government’s top priority is internal stability and this includes a stable border with Afghanistan.
“Right now, Beijing is probably mostly concerned about the threat of militancy spilling over into its own Xinjiang province.”
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“In particular, a resurgence of Uighur militant groups with the capability to conduct terrorist attacks to destabilise Xinjiang.
“It is likely to strike a deal with the Taliban to put pressure on and contain any insurgency groups that could harm Chinese interests.”
China will also want to ensure security around its trade decisions, Mr Romer added.
He said the PRC likely hopes to protect the stable environment around “investment destinations” throughout Asia.
And ultimately, the country could connect them to Afghanistan.
Mr Romer said: “Though the Chinese government probably view Afghanistan as a high-risk investment destination, its geographic location at the centre of the Eurasian landmass is too important for China to ignore.
“Primarily, China probably wants to ensure that Afghanistan’s neighbour Pakistan remains a stable investment destination to protect its already existing infrastructure investments there.
“But in the longer term, it is not unthinkable that China would try to link the economic corridors it built in Pakistan and other Central Asian countries by investing in Afghanistan.”
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