After Biden declared the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, a vacuum was created which turned out to be very significant and kind of an opportunity for the Taliban to rise as a new political power in the Afghan region. Today Taliban claims to control more than 80% of the Afghanistan area which clearly shows how much the roots of the Taliban have penetrated deeply and has given the Taliban a stronger political ground to rise again in this region.
We have seen that China had already started its diplomatic talks with the Taliban even before the Taliban took over its control over Afghanistan.
Let us try to figure out the strategic logic behind this romance between China and the Taliban:
China’s biggest concern right now related to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is the separatism and extremism in the western Xinjiang Yang province of china. In 1990, the ETIM movement became very much stronger with the aim to establish a separate country called east-Turkestan in the western province of China.
The UNSC in 2022 gave this organization a terrorist status. Many reports have found that it has links with al-Qaeda, laden, etc. also. Taliban has some link-ups with al-Qaeda therefore there is a huge possibility that ETIM would again arise in china even stronger this time and the people can take shelter in Afghanistan. This is something China fears. Therefore strategic peaceful talks, engaging in friendly activities with the Taliban will help the Chinese weaken ETIM.
Beijing’s regional ambitions
In recent few years, China has been seen aggressively in action that is increasing its regional dominance. From the South-China sea, Dhoklam to Galwan valley clashes, it is very evident that china just wants to establish its presence everywhere.
One of the important reasons for this aggressive attitude is that China sees India as a major challenge in its dream of establishing its regional dominance.
India’s good relationship with US-backed Afghanistan government has always been good but the Taliban has always had this anti-India approach.
China can isolate India from this region if they are able to improve their relationship with the Taliban, and can benefit out of the Taliban’s anti-India stand. Because of this anti-India stand, Taliban is capable of harming India in its central region projects. For example, Charbhar port in Iran, Deleram Zaranj highway, etc. developed by India through the regions of Afghanistan so that India could approach resource riches central Asia countries for trade.
This is also one of the reasons why the Taliban is important for the Chinese. The TAPI pipeline in Turkmenistan was about to be constructed, which is already in controversy and is now stuck in between anti-India Pakistan’s attitude.
China-Taliban relations can make these controversies even worse.
China’s economic ambitions
China through its BRI initiative is trying to connect with Central Asia, Europe, and South Africa, which ultimately can give the country political and economic benefits in both aspects. Afghanistan is a crucial part of this dream project.
The Peshawar-Kabul motorway negotiations have already started between Chinese and Pakistani representatives.
Beijing through the Wakhan corridor is a major road constructed by china that will connect the shin-jin-yan province with Afghanistan. Through these economic projects, china can explore several economic opportunities and can grow its trade rapidly.
According to some reports, there are supposed to be trillion-dollar extractable rare minerals present in Afghanistan. China’s interest in the Taliban is evident from this also. Afghanistan government had already signed 30 years long 3 billion dollar contract with Chinese metallurgy groups for the extraction of copper deposits from MES AYANK fields.
One can truly say that China’s interest in the Taliban is very practical and a pragmatic.
Almost all the media houses across the world had covered the news of the Taliban as the strongest stakeholder in Afghanistan and if there will be group talks also Taliban will remain a stronger party to negotiate with. In this scenario, China would love to be a friend of Taliban rather than an enemy.
Another important aspect of this romance is improving the relationship with Pakistan as Taliban groups are always pro-Pakistan.
However, India has also given signals to the Taliban for negotiations; talks are happening. Recently Indian diplomats had an official first talk with the Taliban.
Now let’s see the events which clearly show how china –Taliban relationship bloomed.
On 27th July 2011
Nine members of Taliban delegations met with Wang Yi. According to Hindustan Times reports, Wang Yi requested the Taliban to take strict actions against the ETIM in response to which they assured that Afghanistan‘s soil would not be used against Chinese securities.
However, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen already declined this saying that it’s the internal affair of the Chinese, and the Taliban won’t interfere in it including the Uyghur Muslims matter.
Also in an interview, Suhail called China a friendly country. They would be happy to welcome Chinese developmental projects that will help in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the post-Afghanistan country.
Apart from this private communications have been taking place even before.
Recently, Pakistan and China celebrated the anniversary of their strategic relation, where the Chinese talked about supporting important stakeholders in Afghanistan so that the peace can continue.
The problem that arises due to the Taliban emerging as a strong power is recognizing this as a problem or emergency, whatever one can call it. Governments have to be strong enough on their part also to do negotiations with the Taliban, which has emerged geo-politically stronger than one could have ever imagined. Also, the easy-going attitude has to be drooped because one should understand that governments will deal with a group that has always had these anti-India thoughts, and not some amateur group.