China said Monday that Beijing is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan a day after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying did not answer explicitly when asked whether Beijing will recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers but said that China would respect the choice of the Afghan people.
She did, however, note that the extremist group pledges to negotiate the establishment of an inclusive Islamic government and to ensure the safety of both Afghans and foreign missions — adding that China hopes that would “ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan.”
China will also be keeping its embassy open in Kabul, Hua said.
China, which shares a rugged 47-mile border with Afghanistan, has sought to maintain unofficial ties with the Taliban throughout the withdrawal of US forces from the country.
Beijing has long feared Afghanistan could become a staging point for minority Uyghur separatists in the border region of Xinjiang, but a top-level Taliban delegation last month met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin and promised that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militants.
In exchange, China offered economic support and investment for the country’s reconstruction.
On Monday, China said it “welcomed” the chance to deepen ties with Afghanistan, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan,” Hua told reporters.
“We welcome this. China respects the right of the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and is willing to continue to develop… friendly and cooperative relations with Afghanistan,” she added.
Hua called on the Taliban to “ensure a smooth transition” of power and keep its promises to negotiate the establishment of an “open and inclusive Islamic government,” as well as to ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign nationals.
In a statement Monday, the Chinese embassy told its citizens remaining in Afghanistan to “pay close attention to the security situation” and to stay indoors.
Beijing has also criticized what it sees as the hasty American withdrawal from Afghanistan as a failure of leadership.
Meanwhile, Russia said its ambassador to Afghanistan will meet with the Taliban on Tuesday and that Moscow will decide on whether to recognize the new government based on its conduct.
“Our ambassador is in contact with the Taliban leadership, tomorrow he will meet with the Taliban security coordinator,” Foreign Ministry official Zamir Kabulov told Ekho Moskvy radio station on Monday, according to AFP.
He said the talks between Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov and the Taliban would center on how the group plans to provide security for the Russian embassy in Kabul.
On Sunday, Kabulov said that Russia had no plans on evacuating its embassy — though on Monday he said that “part” of its staff would be “evacuated.”
He also said that Moscow will decide on recognizing the new Taliban government based “on the conduct of the new authorities.”
“We will carefully see how responsibly they govern the country in the near future. And based on the results, the Russian leadership will draw the necessary conclusions,” Kabulov said.
With Post wires