Appointment of a New Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan

14 September, 2023 | Muskan Menghani

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Both the Taliban leadership and China, the world's second-largest economy, have expressed their interest in deepening ties, particularly in the commercial sphere.

The latest Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, Zhao Xing, formally delivered his credentials to Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who currently holds the position of acting Prime Minister in the government appointed by the Taliban. Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting Foreign Minister in the Taliban-led Afghan government, described Zhao Xing’s appointment as a significant and meaningful gesture.

Afghan officials view the arrival of the new Chinese envoy as a signal for other countries to engage with the Taliban-led government and establish diplomatic relations. China’s foreign ministry issued a statement explaining that Zhao Xing’s appointment is part of the routine rotation of Chinese ambassadors to Afghanistan, aimed at fostering ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the two nations. The statement also emphasized that China’s policy towards Afghanistan remains consistent.

It’s worth noting that no foreign government has officially recognized the Taliban government, and China did not indicate that this appointment signifies any move toward such recognition.

The United Nations still recognizes the former Western-backed administration of Ashraf Ghani as holding Afghanistan’s seat, and certain Taliban leaders remain subject to international sanctions. The Western world has frozen billions of dollars in Afghan assets and maintained financial isolation, which has posed challenges for the Taliban in reviving the economy and addressing humanitarian crises.

Both the Taliban leadership and China, the world’s second-largest economy, have expressed their interest in deepening ties, particularly in the commercial sphere. Wang Yu, the previous Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, began his tenure in 2019 while the Western-backed administration was still in power and completed it last month, as reported by Al Jazeera.

There are other diplomats in Kabul with the ambassadorial title, but they assumed their roles prior to 2021 when the Taliban assumed control following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces after two decades of conflict. Since then, only a limited number of nations and organizations, such as Pakistan and the European Union, have appointed senior diplomats to head diplomatic missions under the title “charge d’affaires,” which does not require presenting ambassadorial credentials to the host nation.

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