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China pledges $31mn immediate aid to Afghanistan

China said the new government would help bring stability. Source: China's MOFA

BEIJING: China has welcomed the end of “three weeks of anarchy” in Afghanistan with the establishment of a new interim government in Kabul, calling on the Taliban to restore order in the country.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan as US troops withdrew last month and have set up a new administration that started work on Wednesday.

Despite previous promises that their rule would be inclusive, the government is drawn exclusively from loyalist ranks with established hardliners in all key posts and no women.

China has been scathing about the American withdrawal, which it criticised as ill-planned and hasty. On Wednesday it said the new government would help bring stability.

“China attaches great importance to the announcement by the Taliban of the establishment of an interim government and some important personnel arrangements,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a press briefing.

“This has ended more than three weeks of anarchy in Afghanistan and is a necessary step to restore order and rebuild the country.”

While much of the world has adopted a wait-and-see approach to engagement with the Taliban, China has already said it is ready to build friendly relations with the group following their takeover.

Analysts have said a stable and cooperative administration in Kabul would open economic opportunities for China and allow for expansion of its massive overseas infrastructure drive, the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Taliban may also see China as a crucial source of economic support and potentially a key ally. Last week a Taliban spokesman said Beijing had promised them increased aid and Covid-19 assistance.

However, Beijing is wary of the militant group providing support to Muslim-minority Uyghur separatists looking to infiltrate its sensitive border region of Xinjiang.

Wang said Wednesday that China would “not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs”, but hoped the Taliban would “pursue moderate and steady domestic and foreign policies, resolutely crack down on all kinds of terrorist forces, and get along well with all countries, especially neighbouring countries”.