China's ambitions for Afghanistan are displayed at multilateral meetings

At a pair multinational meetings that China is hosting, China will display its ambitions to play a significant role in Afghanistan's stability, development, and defeat of the Taliban. It will also show off its own status by promoting its international standing.

China's ambitions for Afghanistan are displayed at multilateral meetings

These talks are a rare chance for Russia and the U.S to meet over the complicated issue of Afghanistan, despite their deep differences regarding the Ukraine conflict.

China, Russia and the United States will send special envoys to Afghanistan, also known as the "Extended Troika," along with the foreign ministers from China, Russia and Iran.

Wang Wenbin, a ministry spokesperson, stated that China, Russia, Pakistan, and the U.S. all have significant influence over the Afghan issue. Talks will "echo positively" with the third meeting between foreign ministers from Afghanistan's neighboring countries to cement the consensus of all sides... to aid Afghanistan in achieving peace, stability, and development at an earlier date.

The details of the talks are not yet available.

According to Chinese state media, Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, met with his counterparts from Russia and Qatar on Wednesday. The video showed Wang and Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Ministers, mingling in a handshake that was typical of the pandemic era. However, no further details were provided.

Both sides reaffirmed their mutual support for bilateral relations in a joint statement on Feb. 6. Wang reiterated China's view that conflict in Ukraine was due to complex historical factors, including the emergence of "accumulated European security contradictions", Cold War thinking, and confrontations among groups.

The U.S. and others have criticised China for not condemning Moscow's actions, while amplifying Russian disinformation.

Wang, who met with Shah Mahmood Qureshi from Pakistan, was again feisty about Ukraine and said countries should be "especially vigilant regarding the negative spillover consequences" of the crisis.

He stated that the Cold War mentality must not be allowed to resurface in Asia, or for small and medium-sized countries to be used in the games between great powers.

As guests, the foreign ministers from Qatar and Indonesia were invited to attend the meeting with neighboring countries. Amir Khan Muttaqi (the Taliban's foreign minister) will represent Afghanistan at this meeting.

The State Department announced that Tom West, Special Representative for Afghanistan, will represent the U.S. in the Extended Troika negotiations. The spokesperson stated that Pakistan will be attending the Extended Troika talks, and China may have invited Taliban representatives.

According to the spokesperson, the group's interests align with the Taliban's insistence on a stable government that is inclusive, respects human rights, and does not offer terrorism cover, and to rebuild its economy.

China has not recognized Afghanistan's new, hard-line government, but it has resisted harsh criticism from the U.S.

Because of the relative ease in maintaining a bubble separate from the rest of the population, the meetings will be held in Tunxi. This would allow attendees to skip the 21-day coronavirus quarantine that is required for international travelers to Beijing and other major Chinese cities.

Wang hosted an elite delegation from the group a month before the Taliban took control. The meeting was held in Tianjin, China, on July 28, 2021. Wang called the group a "pivotal force" that is important for peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Chinese officials have pressed the Taliban to give assurances that they won't allow any operations within Afghanistan by Turkic Muslim Uyghur minorities attempting to overthrow Chinese rule in their region of Xinjiang.

Wang made an surprise visit to Kabullast Wednesday to meet Taliban leaders. This comes as the international community is fuming over the broken promise of the hard-line movement to open schools for girls above the sixth grade.

China has omitted to mention the limitations on girls' education, and other human rights violations, especially those that target women, but it kept its Kabul embassy open.

Wang's Kabul visit bore all the signs of a formal government-to-government exchange, reinforcing that the "ultimate carrot that Beijing can offer through hosting conferences like these is the prospect of the Taliban receiving diplomatic recognition from China and other neighbors," said Australia-based political risk and Asia affairs analyst Henry Storey.

China hopes to use such outreach as a shield against accusations by Muslim countries about how it treats its Muslim minorities.

China's second concern is the pursuit of opportunities to exploit Afghanistan's vast undeveloped resources. The Mes Aynak mine is thought to be the largest copper deposit in the world.

China will try to present itself as the world's leading advocate for humanitarian assistance and economic growth projects in Afghanistan at this week's gatherings. It will also openly ask the United States to free the Afghan government of its assets and accounts. Alexander Cooley, a Columbia University political scientist and expert on Central Asia, stated that China will be seeking to position itself as the most prominent champion for Afghan aid and economic development projects.

Cooley stated that China is quietly asserting itself to be the regional's leading external power. "This will make China both a critic of the United States' regional policy as well as a leader in a humanitarian coalition made up of Afghanistan's neighboring countries.


 

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