- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2021

China‘s government is calling on the Taliban to reject support for Islamic terrorism as Beijing holds off recognizing the new regime in Kabul until a new government is formed.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a press briefing in Beijing last week that the Chinese government hopes the Taliban and factions in the country will set up an “open and inclusive political structure” with moderate domestic and foreign policies that protect foreign institutions and people in Afghanistan.

“At the same time, we hope it will resolutely crack down on all kinds of terrorist forces, including the [East Turkistan Islamic Movement], and earnestly honor the commitment of not allowing any force to use Afghan territory to threaten the security of its neighbors,” Mr. Zhao said.

The East Turkistan Islamic Movement is China‘s description of an Islamic terrorist group seeking independence for China‘s Xinjiang Province, where more than 1 million Uyghurs have been placed in concentration camps as part of counter-terrorism programs. Afghanistan borders the Xinjiang Province.

Mr. Zhao was responding to earlier statements from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in Kabul.

Mr. Mujahid said the group does not want “to repeat any conflict” and has pardoned its enemies.

“We want to do away with the factors for conflict,” Mr. Mujahid said. “We don’t want any internal enemies and any external enemies.”

Reports from Kabul, however, say Taliban fighters are taking revenge on those who worked for the previous Afghan government and military. There also are reports that remnants of the collapsed Afghan military are forming resistance groups in part of the country and plan to battle the Taliban for control.

Asked if China will recognize the Taliban government in Kabul, Mr. Zhao said recognition normally takes place after a government is formed.

“We hope that Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly representative government that echoes the widely shared aspirations of its own people and the international community,” he said.

China is said to be eager to court the new regime, entertaining a senior Taliban leader in Shanghai last month.

Beijing, however, also knows that the Taliban are capable of attacking Chinese individuals.

Last month, terrorists linked to the Pakistan Taliban, a group linked to the Afghan Taliban, were blamed for an attack that killed nine Chinese engineers in northern Pakistan. The Chinese were in Pakistan as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, China‘s global infrastructure project.

China is spending $50 building for projects in Pakistan, and Islamic terrorists are seeking to scuttle the program.

China temporarily halted work on a dam in northwest Pakistan as a result of the attack and vowed revenge against anti-Chinese forces in the country.

An intelligence source said there is growing recognition that the Pakistan Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are the same organization and share the same hostile posture toward Chinese expansion in Central and southwestern Asia.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide