China courts the Taliban
Islam News – Worried about the war in Afghanistan, China is stepping up its diplomatic efforts to encourage a political settlement after the U.S. military withdrawal from the country. On Wednesday, Chinese officials offered the Taliban a warm welcome at the start of two days of talks in Tianjin, a coastal city in the northeast. During the talks, Beijing extracted a public pledge that the group would not allow fighters to use Afghan territory as a base to carry out attacks inside China, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry. Last month, the Taliban seized a large portion of an Afghan province that borders Xinjiang, a region where China has detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims. China has long sought to play a larger diplomatic role in Afghanistan, but the U.S. always overshadowed its efforts. Now, although China has not said so explicitly, it appears to be trying to act as a mediator between the Afghan government and the Taliban. As the U.S. withdraws, Taliban leaders have visited Tehran, Moscow and the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat for talks. The visit to Tianjin was the Taliban’s most significant diplomatic coup yet.