While China has earlier tried to broker peace and even hosted the Taliban in the past, this is the first time that the initiative has been made at the ministerial level indicating Beijing’s intention to be active in the Afghan theatre. One of Beijing’s key goals is to prevent terror from Afghanistan have a spill-over impact into Chinese territory, sources familiar with the Chinese foreign policy explained.
India is keeping a close watch as China takes the lead to mediate in Afghanistan as the US prepares to withdraw from the landlocked nation.
While China has earlier tried to broker peace and even hosted the Taliban in the past, this is the first time that the initiative has been made at the ministerial level indicating Beijing’s intention to be active in the Afghan theatre. One of Beijing’s key goals is to prevent terror from Afghanistan have a spill-over impact into Chinese territory, sources familiar with the Chinese foreign policy explained to ET.
China will have full backing of Pakistan in its endeavour in Afghanistan given their all-weather friendship. Under such circumstances, the Indian establishment is closely monitoring the Chinese moves and its impacts on its interests in Afghanistan, which is part of New Delhi’s neighbourhood, ET has learnt. Any pro-active Chinese move in South Asia is closely monitored in New Delhi.
India has invested heavily, close to three billion dollars, in various infrastructure and development projects in Afghanistan, besides conducting several capacity building programs for Afghan officials from a variety of sectors. India is also increasingly playing an important role in the Afghan peace process by participating at various high table meets.
In 2018-19 India and China jointly trained Afghan diplomats following their understanding in Wuhan, but this did not make headway as relations deteriorated since August 2019 following the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier this week, China offered to host talks between the parties in Afghanistan and pledged to help its anti-terrorism effort, an overture seen as Beijing positioning itself as a mediator, a role it has not played so far, unlike US, Russia and France, in various global theatres.
In a call with his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China would continue to support Afghanistan and South Asian countries in fighting the pandemic and was willing to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan.
In a separate call on the same day, Wang told Afghan national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib, “China is willing to facilitate intra-Afghan negotiations, including creating necessary conditions for holding the talks in China.”
According to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry, Beijing and Kabul aim to expand strategic cooperation to “ensure peace and strengthen regional consensus,” with Atmar expressing gratitude for China’s support in its peace process.
The US is expected to complete the withdrawal of its remaining 2,500-3,500 troops from Afghanistan by this September and this has raised concerns in Beijing that any instability would pose a security threat to the Xinjiang region, located in close geographical proximity to Afghanistan.