Late last month, the Taliban ambassador to China, Bilal Karimi, presented his credentials to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, making China the first country to accept a Taliban ambassador.
It is a “normal diplomatic arrangement for China to receive the new ambassador,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters. “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,” he said.
Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital that he considers the relationship between China and the Taliban as “strictly transactional.” He said the groups are at an impasse because the Taliban cannot support China’s ongoing oppression of its Muslim Uyghur population and the Taliban host Uyghur militants from the al Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) despite assuring China that the TIP will not be allowed to operate within Afghanistan
Other projects have hit snags. Chinese investors who purchased the contract to mine Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak copper reserves more than a decade ago have not started work. The copper mine is situated amid the ruins of a 1,000- to 2,000-year-old city. Though open pit mining of Mes Aynak is the more economical option for exploiting its resources, doing so would disturb the area’s archeological ruins.
Afghan embassy, Beijing
This view shows the Afghan embassy in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2023. (Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images)
Another possible future link between China and the Taliban could spell trouble for the Taliban’s enemies. Reuters reported in September 2023 that the Taliban seek to create a “large-scale camera surveillance network” in Afghan cities, with Chinese company Huwaei providing a “verbal agreement” to support an installment contract.
Huawei products are banned in the U.S. and many Western countries. The Washington Post found that Huawei facial-recognition technology has been used to track China’s Uyghur population. Roggio says the Taliban “would use such technologies to advance its interests with China, including spying on problem elements of Uyghurs sheltering in Afghanistan.” The technology also poses a risk to a population of 3,000 Uyghurs who fled to Afghanistan to escape persecution in China, according to The China Project.
For Afghans who already fear the biometric technology that Taliban members are said to be using at some of their checkpoints, the proposed surveillance network is likely to present new concerns.
Whether or not China officially recognizes the Taliban, its growing relationship with Afghanistan’s ruling party is “a bitter pill to swallow” for Mariam Solaimankhil, a parliamentarian from the former Afghan government. Solaimankhil told Fox News Digital that she feels the Chinese are “telling [Afghan women that] our struggles and pleas for freedom are worth less than political and economic gains. The message is loud and clear: Afghan women’s rights are up for sale, and the Chinese are all too ready to make a deal.”