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Security Concerns Bring China Closer to Taliban

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi poses for photos with Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Afghan Taliban's caretaker government, in Kabul, March 24, 2022. (Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via AP)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi poses for photos with Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister of the Afghan Taliban’s caretaker government, in Kabul, March 24, 2022. (Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via AP)

The severe isolation of Afghanistan since the Taliban captured the country’s capital a year ago has provided China an opportunity to become a major player in the country.

Beijing has joined the international community in urging Kabul’s new rulers to implement reforms, such as forming an inclusive government with representation for all Afghan ethnicities and respect for women’s rights, particularly when it comes to education and work.

But China has also promised the Taliban regime economic and development support in exchange for attention to Chinese security concerns — especially in restraining any Uyghur militant groups in Afghanistan from targeting Chinese interests, particularly Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, in the region.

Before the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani-led government, Beijing had a close working relationship with Kabul, and Afghan security forces helped monitor and target Uyghur militant groups at China’s request. But since the Taliban’s takeover in August last year, Beijing has begun to engage with the new rulers because it does not want terrorism to spill over from Afghanistan into China or target its interests in the region.

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