China pledges support for Taliban in landmark invitation to Beijing

·2-min read
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

China has pledged its support for the Taliban during Afghanistan’s reconstruction, a major boon for the insurgents as they seek greater international recognition.

Taliban leaders were invited to China’s foreign ministry in Beijing in the militant group's first official meeting with a foreign government since it launched a major new offensive in May.

The Taliban is now believed to control half of Afghanistan’s 419 districts and 90 per cent of the country’s border crossings.

Peace talks between Taliban officials and the Afghan government have so far proved inconclusive since the two sides first sat down together in Qatar in September, as US troop withdrawals began.

But it is widely understood that to end Afghanistan’s devastating 20-year conflict, which has seen the death of at least 70,000 civilians, the authorities must reach an agreement with the Taliban. The insurgents also demand representation in future governments.

During Wednesday’s meeting with the Taliban, China vowed to recognise the group’s sovereignty.

“The Taliban in Afghanistan is a pivotal military and political force in the country, and will play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction there,” said Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi.

China, which shares a 47-mile border with Afghanistan, is seeking to boost ties with the group to avoid any spillover of violence into its tightly controlled eastern Xinjiang province. Taliban officials have promised to cut ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group China has accused of carrying out attacks in Xinjiang.

Other nations have so far been less forthcoming about engaging with the Taliban publicly. The group is accused of gross human rights violations by the United Nations, including the killing of hundreds of Afghan civilians in Kandahar province in recent weeks.

However, many states are coming to the realisation that they will have to work with the Taliban through more formal channels in the future after previously facing off against the group’s soldiers on the battlefield.

Earlier in July, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, told the Telegraph the United Kingdom would be prepared to work with the group if they came to power in Afghanistan.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting