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Security concerns bring China closer to Taliban

Afghanistan's deep isolation has created an opportunity for China to become a major player in the country since the Taliban took over the Afghan capital a year ago.

Beijing will join the international community to form an inclusive government, representing all ethnic groups in Afghanistan and respecting women's rights, especially with respect to education and work, to the new ruler of Kabul.

However, China also promised economic and development assistance to the Taliban regime in exchange for heeding China's security concerns. . In particular, it restrains Afghan Uyghur militant groups from targeting Chinese interests, especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. , regional.

Before the fall of Ashraf Ghani's government, Beijing had close ties with Kabul, and Afghan security forces monitored and targeted Uyghur extremist groups at China's request. However, since the Taliban takeover last August, Beijing has not wanted terrorism to spill over from Afghanistan into China or target regional interests, so it has decided to keep its new rulers at bay.

Beijing-Taliban relations

No country has yet recognized the Taliban as the rightful rulers of Afghanistan, thus supporting the previous government. Millions of dollars of aid have vanished, billions of state-owned assets have been frozen, and sanctions have nearly collapsed the country's economy.

In this situation, the Taliban regime is actively seeking Chinese investment and financial support.

"China has been engaging in aggressive diplomacy with the Taliban and has announced many initiatives and interests of the United States in Afghanistan," said a fellow of the Strategic Studies Program at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. , Kabir Taneja, told VOA. “So there is a fair amount of stance by Beijing, but not enough movement yet. Beijing wants to be seen as parenting the Taliban regime, both economically and politically. I don't think so.''

In April, China allowed the Taliban to reopen the Afghan embassy in Beijing, but in recent months the Chinese embassy in Kabul and Chinese state-owned enterprises Officials met with federal and local governments to discuss Chinese investment and reconstruction. project. China has provided aid worth her $8 million to families affected by the recent earthquake in Afghanistan.

More recently, at an international conference on Afghanistan held in Tashkent on 26 July, China's Special Representative for Afghanistan Yue Xiaoyong announced that Beijing would finance the construction of a Trans-Afghan Railway linking Uzbekistan to Uzbekistan. announced that it will support Port of Pakistan.

Experts believe that China, like Afghanistan's other neighbors, is cautiously engaging the Taliban regime without giving it formal diplomatic recognition. We continue to explore business opportunities in Afghanistan, but the country lacks the political stability and security to justify the upfront costs of large-scale investment in extractive industries.”

Security Concerns in Beijing

Concerned. Islamic Movement (ETIM). TIP aims to free the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Uyghur people from Chinese government control and carries out attacks against China's interests.

The Taliban allowed Uyghur groups to operate in Afghanistan during his rule from 1996 to 2001. TIP is part of an alliance of transnational jihadist groups led by al-Qaeda that helped the Taliban capture much of Afghanistan last year. US withdrawal. Experts believe that Beijing probably understands that Kabul's new ruler cannot be easily pressured to expel the Uyghur fighters.

The Taliban have also been very consistent in their message that they will not allow Afghanistan to become a haven for international terrorist groups seeking to launch attacks against regional states, particularly China. Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki said at an international conference in Tashkent that "the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow its members or any other person or group, including al-Qaeda, to pose a threat." to the safety of others from the soil of Afghanistan.

Rafiq told VOA that the Taliban's approach to Uyghur militants is "similar to how they treat other foreign jihadists in friendly groups. Outside activities."

Evidence that the Taliban moved Uighur militants from Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan along the 76-kilometer border with China to address security concerns in Beijing. There seems to be some

Since the Taliban occupied Kabul last year, Uyghur militant groups have been very careful to minimize media output showing their fighters in Afghanistan, and for several years It is less openly belligerent to China than before, experts said.

“One metric that can be used is to compare TIP in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics with media output at the 2022 Olympics. It was aggressive, loud and threatening.Meanwhile, in 2022, this group will have to balance hostilities against Beijing with practical considerations involving its host, the Taliban." said Lucas Webber, a researcher specializing in non-state actors and extremist organizations and editor of the Militant Wire outlet.

The UN Security Council, in his 15 July report, stated that TIP "rebuilt several fortifications in Badakhshan province, expanded its range of operations, and secretly purchased arms." It aims to improve the capabilities of terrorist activities by "However, UN agencies have also observed that efforts by the Taliban to curb TIP activity may have contributed to the lack of recent attacks by the Taliban.

47} ISKP factor

Another concern for Beijing is the growing presence of a regional branch of the Islamic State known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan.

The ISKP has used the withdrawal of the United States to establish itself as the last remaining jihadist movement in Afghanistan, targeting not only the Taliban but also other border crossings.

“IS [the central organization] declared China an enemy in the mid-2010s, and the Taliban Since taking power in August 2021, he has stepped up his anti-China rhetoric, discrediting the new government," Webber told VOA.

Recent magazines and videos released by the ISKP frequently feature visuals of China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi clashing elbows with Mullah Abdul Gani Baradal and receiving a gift of pine nuts from Muttaki. is displayed.

The UNSC reported that the ISKP had succeeded in recruiting about 50 of his TIP members by offering higher monthly salaries. The group asked his TIP operations commander in Badakhshan to join, but he declined, the report said.

Threats to Pakistan's One Belt, One Road

Belt and Road-related development projects that have long been accused of embracing and ethnic separatist groups targeting Chinese in Pakistan. Islamabad and Beijing hoped Taliban control of Afghanistan would reduce the threat from Baloch militants.

However, five days after the Taliban captured Kabul, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a major ethnic separatist group, seized a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals in a Pakistani coastal town. targeted a suicide bomber. Gwadar – where China is developing a deep sea port and a transport network linking Gwadar with China.

For the BLA and other ethnic separatist groups, Belt and Road related development projects have placed Beijing directly on the side of the exploiters and oppressors. In recent years, many of the targets of riot violence have been Chinese, after four ethnic separatist groups, including the BLA, formed an operational alliance.

This year in late April, the BLA claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed three Chinese teachers at a state-run university in the port city of Karachi. In the same city, BLA militants killed four of him in an attack on the Chinese consulate in 2018, and in 2020, the group invested in the Pakistan Stock Exchange, where Chinese investors own 40% of him. killed three people in an attack on

After the Gwadar attack, the Taliban detained and expelled a number of separatist families from neighboring provinces of Nangarhar and Nimroz, according to the Baloch separatist group.

However, due to ideological ties, the Taliban took no action against his TTP, an ally of her TIP. Instead, Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani brokered negotiations between the TTP and Islamabad on the condition of an indefinite ceasefire.

According to a recent UNSC report, the TIP recently strengthened its relationship with the TTP, providing "military training in the manufacture and use of improvised explosive devices, with a focus on morale and plans to carry out terrorist attacks." strengthened.

This story comes from VOA's Urdu service.