China Invites Taliban to Beijing for Five-Day Visit

China Invites Taliban to Beijing for Five-Day Visit
Photo Credit: Ahmad Masood / Reuters / 達志影像

What you need to know

Analysts believe that the Chinese government's involvement in Afghanistan is to strengthen China’s national security, especially in Xinjiang Province.

A Taliban delegation met with Chinese officials in Beijing earlier last month to discuss the Afghanistan situation, a Taliban official says.

The team was reportedly invited by the Chinese government and led by Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, on a five-day visit from July 18-22 to discuss the militant movement's fight against the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.

Reuters reports that a Taliban official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "We have good terms with different countries of the world and China is one among them."

The source also said the Taliban hopes the Chinese government can help bring global attention to the issue in Afghanistan and “help us get freedom from occupying forces.”

The Afghan government is displeased with the visit, saying “Beijing should not provide ‘a platform’ to groups that are involved in the killing of Afghans,” Voice of America reported.

Chinese authorities have so far not commented on the visit.

China-Taliban relations

China is one of the four countries that attempted to restart peace talks with the Taliban earlier this year. The other three include Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S.

Analysts believe the Chinese government's decision to take part in peace efforts in Afghanistan is to strengthen China’s national security, especially in the restive Xinjiang Province.

A 2013 Foreign Policy article reports that Beijing had concerns of the Taliban government providing shelter for Uighur militants starting in the late 1990s. Meetings between the Chinese government and the Taliban in 2000 failed to deliver satisfactory results and “the Taliban did not expel Uighur militants from its territory,” and “though it prohibited them from operating their own camps, it allowed them to embed with other militant groups, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.”

The East Turkeministan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is said to be operating from Afghanistan, has often been accused by China of being responsible for violent attacks in Xinjiang. Through reconciliation in Afghanistan, the Chinese government expects to further suppress ETIM and reinforce peace in the Xinjiang region.

Edited by: J. Michael Cole