ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan has received its first batch of Chinese military equipment as part of Beijing’s commitment to provide millions of dollars of assistance to help Kabul fight terrorism.
The shipment on board a Russian cargo plane arrived Sunday in Kabul where Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing handed it over to Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar.
The cargo apparently contained among other things logistical equipment, parts of military vehicles, ammunition and weapons for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
Jing said Beijing wants to have regular and normal state-to-state relations with the Afghan government and the Afghan people, which includes military cooperation.
“Afghanistan is our close neighbor and a very important neighbor to China… So, this is the beginning of our regular military-to-military exchanges and cooperation,” Jing said.
Atmar declined to discuss further details or value of the Chinese equipment, saying such military matters required secrecy. He said the assistance shows a joint resolve against terrorism facing Afghanistan and China.
“The military aid is just the beginning of our joint struggle against terrorism. I consider it a major change in China’s relations towards Afghanistan that China is standing with the Afghan people in the counterterrorism fight,” Atmar noted.
He said that a next shipment due later this year is expected to include more military equipment along with scanners for Afghan police to enable them to detect bombs such as vehicle-born improvised explosives devices. Afghan officials plan to install the scanners at four entry points to Kabul.
“Both China and Afghanistan, we don't have any ambitions ... But we do have our own duty to safeguard our own peace and the sovereignty. So, in this regard China and Afghanistan are on the same front. We will fight together,” Jing resolved.
China is also part of a Quadrilateral Cooperation Group or QCG, which also includes Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States, working to bring about a peaceful end to the Afghan conflict. But the four-nation process has been unable to start peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The increased Chinese involvement in the conflict-torn Afghanistan, critics believe, stems from concerns that continued instability in its immediate neighborhood could fuel problems in the far western Xinjiang region where Uighur Muslims are waging a low-level separatist insurgency against Chinese rule.