China to Wait for Stability Before Afghan Economic Dialogue

Experts said that China will have to wait for Afghanistan to stabilize before seeking economic dialogues with the Taliban if it wants to avoid conflict.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, stated on Aug. 16 that Beijing will continue to develop “cooperative relations” with Afghanistan as long as the Taliban maintains peace within the country.

Zhang Li, a professor at the Sichuan University’s Institute of South Asian Studies, told Al Jazeera that China should prioritize political reconciliation. “Talk of major economic engagement is too early,” he added.

Analysts point out that China’s warm ties with the Taliban is key to tapping into Afghanistan’s mining resources and routes for Belt-and-Road projects, given the withdrawal of rival western powers in the area.

However, China will first have to see how Afghanistan’s new government will emerge. “They don’t want to be stuck dealing with a kind of pariah state again in their neighbourhood,” said Andrew Small, researcher at the German Marshall Fund.

Zhang asserted that if the Taliban can keep its promise of maintaining peace in Afghanistan, “I think it’s quite possible for China to consider economic engagement, in a big way.”

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