China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reaffirmed Beijing’s support for Afghanistan’s national unity government during a visit to Pakistan. Wang is in Islamabad at the start of a two-day official visit to Pakistan, during which he will discuss bilateral relations and peace efforts in neighboring Afghanistan.
Wang says a broad-based, inclusive national reconciliation government with multiple factions, including the Taliban, will be the right direction for Afghanistan's long-term stability and security.
At a news conference with Pakistani Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Wang emphasized the need for the international community to remain engaged with Kabul and support the unity government led by President Ashraf Ghani.
Speaking through his interpreter, Wang promised China is determined to deliver on its commitments to rebuild Afghanistan and is ready to promote national peace and reconciliation efforts in that country.
“We will support the Afghan government in realizing reconciliation with various political factions, including (the) Taliban," said Wang. "We believe that the broad-based and inclusive national reconciliation on the basis of Afghan-owned and Afghan-led represents the right direction for Afghanistan to realize national unity and harmony and long-term stability and security of the country ...China is ready to play its constructive role and will provide necessary facilitation at any time if it is required by various parties in Afghanistan.”
The drawdown of U.S.-led international forces from Afghanistan has seen increased Chinese involvement in helping the war-shattered country overcome its economic, security and infrastructure challenges.
Many analysts inside and outside China believe the stepped up diplomacy stems from concerns that strengthening extremist forces in Afghanistan could embolden Uighur Muslims waging a low-level insurgency in the western China's Xinjiang border region. Security concerns for its investments and citizens working in Afghanistan also considered a major reason for China's increased involvement.
The Chinese foreign minister said that reconstruction and eradication of poverty can only ensure a brighter future for Afghanistan.
“We need to support economic and social reconstruction in Afghanistan," he said. "We believe that to resolve the issue in Afghanistan reconciliation is crucial and reconstruction is the fundamental solution.”
Wang underscored Pakistan’s importance in promoting Afghan peace, saying it is making serious efforts to achieve that goal.
For his part, Pakistani advisor Aziz said that improving relations with Afghanistan serves his country’s vital security interests.
“I also briefed Foreign Minister Wang Yi about several positive developments in the past few months that have helped improve Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan," said Azizi. "We agreed that Pakistan and China should work together to promote peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.”
China also maintains contacts with the Taliban and the Islamist movement recently sent a delegation to Beijing. But Chinese officials have never officially released details of the visit while the Taliban has only confirmed the contact, saying China’s role will be important once the Taliban agree to hold talks with the Afghan government.
The United States and Afghanistan accuse Pakistan of harboring fugitive Taliban leaders. Pakistan denies that allegation, but many analysts think that it played a role in facilitating the Taliban's contacts with Beijing.