China urges US to unfreeze assets belonging to Afghanistan amid turmoil

Laura Zhou, South China Morning Post

Posted at Sep 16 2021 01:40 PM

China on Wednesday called on the United States to unfreeze assets belonging to Afghanistan, and thanked the Taliban-controlled government for guaranteeing the security of Chinese investments in the nation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the assets belonged to Afghanistan, and the US should accept the legitimate demands of the nation.

“The US should give up the path of sanctioning, and should not create obstacles for the peaceful reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan,” Zhao said.

The US has reportedly frozen US$9.5 billion in Afghanistan central bank assets, following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund also halted aid to Afghanistan and the Taliban asked nations such as China to help with reconstruction.

Zhao’s message came after Beijing’s ambassador to Kabul, Wang Yu, told acting Foreign Minister Amir Muttaqi on Tuesday that the China appreciated the Taliban guaranteeing the security of Chinese investments.

Wang also expressed the hope of establishing “a broad and inclusive political framework” in the war-torn country following the United States’ withdrawal and the Taliban’s subsequent military victory.

“Ambassador Wang thanked the Afghan side for its efforts to safeguard the property of Chinese citizens and Chinese enterprises in Afghanistan and the security of the embassy,” the Chinese embassy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Wang also reaffirmed Beijing’s support for the independence and sovereignty of Afghanistan and reiterated offers of vaccines and humanitarian aid. He added China was “willing to work together with the international community to help Afghanistan tackle terrorism to ensure stability and economic development in the country”.

Muttaqi responded by saying the government was “willing to continue to improve the governance capacity with the help of China and the international community … to better combat terrorism” and would not allow any forces to use its territory to harm interests of China or any other country, according to a Chinese statement.

The Taliban-controlled government is seeking to shore up its finances as the country faces an economic crisis.
The Taliban has declared China to be Afghanistan’s “most important partner” for rebuilding.

And last week Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the new government wanted to take part in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a US$50 billion flagship programme under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Afghanistan is a member of the multinational Chinese strategy, with the first official memorandum on their partnership signed in 2016, but little progress has been made because of volatile conditions in the country.
Since the Taliban took over Kabul a month ago, Beijing – deeply fearful of the spillover effect of Afghanistan’s instability – has taken a cautious strategy with its central Asian neighbour.

Even though China was among the first major powers to establish contact with the largely isolated Taliban before it had taken control of most of Afghanistan, Beijing has not yet officially recognised the Taliban-controlled government. But China said it was willing to keep up communication with Kabul after the Taliban was named an interim government.

And in a move that is widely seen as part of Beijing’s effort to fill the void left by the US, China announced it would donate 200 million yuan (US$31 million) worth of aid, including food and coronavirus vaccines, to Afghanistan.


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