China has named its first ambassador to Afghanistan since the Taliban took control in 2021, becoming the first country to do so. The Taliban views this appointment, Zhao Xing, as a signal for other nations to establish ties with their government, although no other country has officially recognized the Taliban administration due to concerns about human rights violations.
China’s foreign ministry has reiterated its commitment to dialogue and cooperation with Afghanistan, citing a “clear and consistent” policy. Zhao Xing’s appointment is described as a routine rotation of Chinese ambassadors to Afghanistan.
The Taliban has faced international condemnation for its treatment of women and its reinstatement of practices such as public executions and stonings. Women’s rights in Afghanistan have been significantly curtailed under Taliban rule, and the group has been accused of sheltering terrorist organizations, which they deny.
Zhao Xing’s appointment is seen as part of China’s efforts to strengthen its influence in the region, given its significant interests in Afghanistan, including valuable natural resources and its strategic location for the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. However, security concerns exist due to Afghanistan’s border with China’s restive Xinjiang region, where Uyghur militants have launched attacks in the past.
China has previously engaged in high-level talks with the Taliban and expressed interest in investing in Afghanistan’s natural resources. Additionally, it recently extended the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor into Afghanistan, signaling its intention to play a role in the country’s reconstruction.
The Belt and Road Initiative conference in October is expected to provide further insights into Afghanistan’s role in this ambitious project.