China has declared the future of Afghanistan’s worsening conflict a “practical challenge” to neighboring countries and stressed the need for collectively tackling it to ensure regional peace.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in a pre-recorded video to a seminar in the Pakistani capital in connection with 70 years of Beijing’s diplomatic ties with Islamabad.
Wang said China, together with Pakistan, will continue to support the Afghan parties to the war in seeking a political settlement through peace talks and achieving national reconciliation and “enduring" peace.
“We should join hands in safeguarding regional peace. The future of the Afghan issue is a practical challenge to both China and Pakistan,” the Chinese chief diplomat told the event organized by the Islamabad-based independent Pakistan China Institute.
“We will encourage other stake-holding countries to strengthen communication and collaboration, effectively contain spillover of security risks, and especially prevent regional and international terrorist forces from wreaking havoc and prevailing,” Wang stressed.
Hostilities between Taliban insurgents and pro-government forces in Afghanistan have spiked to unprecedented levels since early May, when the United States and NATO formally began withdrawing their last remaining troops from the country under orders by President Joe Biden.
Deteriorating security in the wake of rapid Taliban advances across Afghanistan has raised concerns among the country’s neighbors, including Pakistan and Iran, that a new wave of Afghan refugees could come their way as a result of the turmoil.
The insecurity has also raised fears the crisis will likely encourage transnational terrorist groups, including the Islamic State terror group, to expand influence in the war-torn South Asian nation and threaten international security.
Wang has previously urged U.S.-led foreign military forces to withdraw from Afghanistan in “a responsible and orderly manner.”
China is worried the continued Afghan crisis could undermine what it says are its gains against terrorism in its western Xinjiang region. Beijing blames the violence on insurgents from minority Uyghur Muslims and has launched a massive crackdown against the community in recent years amid growing allegations of human rights abuses.
Pakistan, which still hosts nearly three million Afghan refugees, is currently receiving billions of dollars in Chinese investment, building roads, railways, ports and power plants.
Islamabad and Beijing intend to extend the bilateral collaboration, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, to Afghanistan to bring much needed economic development to the conflict-ravaged and poverty-stricken country if peace is restored there.
The CPEC is regarded as a centerpiece of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, bringing more than $25 billion in Chinese investment and soft loans to Pakistan over the past six years.
Pakistan’s tension-marked ties with the government in Afghanistan, however, have lately worsened in the wake of growing allegations Islamabad’s covert support of the Taliban is behind the insurgent violence and territorial gains, charges Pakistani officials reject.
China has lately stepped up its diplomatic efforts to ease tensions between the two neighboring countries and to encourage them to work jointly for regional security and prosperity.
While presiding over a trilateral foreign ministers-level meeting last June, Wang pledged that China will continue to “play a positive role” to help improve and develop relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He also urged the delegates to “deepen high-quality" Belt and Road cooperation and enhance connectivity among the three countries and in the region at large.