China has become the first country to recognise a Taliban-appointee as Afghanistan's envoy. The recognition is expected to be seen as de-facto recognition of the Taliban regime as a legitimate government.
Days after reports surfaced that Bilal Karimi, a Taliban-appointee, has submitted his credentials as the Ambassador of Afghanistan to China to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese government confirmed the recognition.
"As a long-standing friendly neighbour of Afghanistan, China believes that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community...We believe that diplomatic recognition of the Afghan government will come naturally as the concerns of various parties are effectively addressed," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin at a media briefing.
The Taliban overthrew the democratically-elected Afghanistan government in 2021 and took control of the country after an insurgency of two decades. No country has yet recognised Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate ruler. Since taking over the country, the Taliban regime has clamped down on civil liberties and women's rights in the country, cutting them from most educational opportunities and largely banning them from public places and employment. Women have also been told to cover themselves head to toe when allowed to be out.
While much of the world has shunned diplomatic recognition of the Taliban regime, China along with Pakistan and Russia have maintained their missions in Kabul even as they have not formally recognised the Taliban regime as legitimate government.
After accepting the new envoy, Wang said that Beijing hopes that the Taliban regime would respond to the expectations of the international community in the country.
"We hope Afghanistan will further respond to the expectations of the international community, build an open and inclusive political structure, adopt moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, firmly combat all forms of terrorist forces, develop friendly relations with other countries, especially with its neighbours, and integrate itself into the world community," said Wang.
China has had security concerns for a long time regarding Afghanistan as it believes that East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an outfit it has banned, has a base in Afghanistan. The ETIM is said to be active in Xinjiang region of China where the country's government has been accused to run state-sponsored repressive regime against the region's native Uighur Muslim community.
Moreover, China's action has come at a time when its ally Pakistan is at loggerheads with the Taliban regime. Pakistan and Taliban regime have exchanged sharp barbs through the year and Pakistan has also accused Afghanistan-based elements for carrying out deadly attacks in the country, mainly by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
"Pakistan is now blaming the Taliban government for recurring terrorist attacks in the country and criticised it for not cracking down hard on Pakistan Islamic militant groups, especially the Pakistani Taliban, operating from Afghanistan. In retaliation, Islamabad has ordered forceful evacuation of thousands of Afghan refugees living in the country for decades," noted PTI.