China has become the first country to confer diplomatic status to a Taliban-nominated official as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Beijing, thereby formally recognising the Taliban-run administration as a legitimate government in Kabul.
“As a long-standing friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, China believes that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Tuesday when asked whether China recognised the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Earlier reports from Kabul said China has given Bilal Karimi, a Taliban nominee the status of Ambassador and he has submitted his credentials to the foreign ministry here.
China along with Pakistan and Russia maintained its embassy in Kabul after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021 following the withdrawal of American troops from the war-ravaged country. While maintaining close contact with the Taliban interim administration, Beijing withheld recognition, especially over global criticism of the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, excluding them from educational institutions. No other country has formally recognised the Taliban government, which has been criticised over human rights violations and crushing women’s rights.
Defending China’s move, Wang said, “We hope Afghanistan will further respond to the expectations of the international community, build an open and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, firmly combat all forms of terrorist forces, develop friendly relations with other countries, especially with its neighbours, and integrate itself into the world community.”
“We believe that diplomatic recognition of the Afghan government will come naturally as the concerns of various parties are effectively addressed,” Wang said.
China, which shares borders with Afghanistan, also has serious concerns over the regrouping of East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a banned outfit comprising Uighur militants from the volatile Xinjiang province, and pressing the Taliban administration to crack down on the outfit. Significantly, China’s diplomatic recognition comes at a time when Pakistan, Beijing’s all-weather ally, is having serious problems with the Taliban which it once nurtured. Pakistan is now blaming the Taliban government for recurring terrorist attacks in the country and criticised it for not cracking down hard on Pakistan Islamic militant groups, especially the Pakistani Taliban, operating from Afghanistan. In retaliation, Islamabad has ordered forceful evacuation of thousands of Afghan refugees living in the country for decades.