The East Turkestan Islamic Movement [ETIM] was also brought up during the latest meeting between China and the Taliban.
China promised to stand with Afghanistan and work with the international community to rebuild the country following decades of war, Xinhua news agency reported.
This came during a meeting between China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi and a delegation from the interim Taliban-led Afghan government, led by Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Qatar on Monday.
“China always respects Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and supports the Afghan people to independently determine their own destiny and choose the development path”, said Wang.
Wang will also meet with Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Doha.
The Chinese diplomat said Afghanistan is currently at a “critical stage” as it undergoes a political transition while grappling with a humanitarian and economic crisis caused by decades of war and drought.
Beijing previously announced $31 million worth of emergency aid including Covid-19 vaccines to Afghanistan after the Taliban unveiled its new interim government. The movement also declared China as its “main partner” in rebuilding the war-torn country.
During the Doha meeting, the first to take place between China and members of the Taliban since July, Wang shared hopes that members of the interim administration will continue to demonstrate openness and allow all ethnic groups to peacefully reconstruct the country.
He also urged the Taliban to adopt a friendly policy with its neighbours and build a modern country.
Furthermore, the diplomat called on the US and the west to lift sanctions on Taliban members while urging parties to engage with the new acting government to pave the way for a healthy development of Afghanistan.
The announcement of the Taliban’s new administration in September was met with global criticism as it solely comprises of its own members and loyalists, including the Haqqani network.
Among the names are Interior Minister Sirrajudin Haqqani and the Acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, both of whom have been declared terrorists by the United States and the United Nations.
The US accuses the Haqqani movement of engaging in attacks on US forces in Afghanistan during the two-decade long war.
The Joe Biden administration also froze billions of dollars in Afghanistan government reserves in US bank accounts to block the Taliban from accessing funds belonging to the Afghan Central Bank.
Commenting on recent developments in Afghanistan, Baradar said the current situation remains under control.
The Taliban promises to take “inclusive measures” to ensure equal representation in its administration, Baradar added, noting the movement is willing to protect the rights and interests of women and children without depriving them of their right to work and education.
According to the Taliban official, women in medical institutions, airport and other places are back at work, and girls at primary and secondary levels across several provinces have returned to schools following months of disruption.
However, Baradar said women and girls continue to face difficulties due to a lack of facilities and funds.
The meeting between China and the Taliban in Doha also touched on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement [ETIM].
Wang stressed that the ETIM poses a real threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity, as well as Afghanistan’s stability. He hoped that the Taliban would take “effective measures” to fight the group.
The ETIM is located in the Xinjiang region – also where most Uyghur Muslims are located—and was placed on the US terror list in 2002 under the George W Bush administration.
However, the group was removed in November last year as “there has been no credible evidence” that the group continues to exist, Washington said at the time.
The latest meeting with the Taliban comes as more countries engage with the new administration following initial hesitation.
China was one of the few countries that kept its embassies in Kabul after the Taliban’s takeover. Several countries, including the US, moved their consulates from Afghanistan to Qatar following the troop withdrawal.
In Moscow meetings last week, China, Russia and Iran agreed to work with the Taliban in efforts to promote security in the region.
For many, including Qatar which hosts a Taliban political office in its capital, recognition of the Taliban has been downplayed as not an immediate priority as the country grapples with a worsening humanitarian and economic situation.
In an extraordinary G20 meeting earlier this month, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the international community bears a responsibility to support Afghanistan, calling for dialogue rather than isolation.
As countries continue to isolate Afghanistan due to its new government, Sheikh Tamim said this “has proven that isolation leads to polarisation of positions, sharp reactions” noting a solution through dialogue is essential.