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Sheharyar Khan

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

1.Russian satellite news agency on September 2, the taliban spokesman Mr Beulah, mujahid said in an interview with Italian la repubblica newspaper, China is the taliban's main partner, "China investment and the reconstruction of Afghanistan, for it is the main and incredible opportunity, China is our gateway to the world market".What is your comment on the taliban spokesman's statement?What is the main trouble and risk China may face in future because of the reprise of Afghanistan?

Taliban are cognizant of the fact that their government cannot survive without international recognition and support. For this purpose, they have been engaged in diplomatic relations with several countries and especially with China. They know that China is not only their neighbor but also a great economic power that can invest in Afghanistan. They are sending all the positive signals to China. Taliban have always kept a positive attitude towards China. If the Taliban are given legitimacy, a lot of concerns of the world community could be addressed. Taliban will behave like a normal country if it engaged diplomatically.

For China, the most important concern is security. There are concerns that Afghanistan can become a breeding ground for terrorists. China’s concern regarding ETIM is well placed. But Taliban have made assurances that its soil will not be used against China or any other country. Once China is satisfied with its security concerns, it will open up the economic front. Afghanistan is a wartorn country and it needs a lot of fo investment in infrastructure, services sector, and mining. China could help in that and play a very positive role in its development.

Of course, there are challenges. Taliban would need widespread recognition. If they do not get legitimacy, it would not be easy for any country to do business with them. Taliban would not be able to survive and the country can descent into chaos again if the Taliban fail to provide good governance and improve the quality of life. This would not augur well for the security of the region as well. International terrorists can then find a place in the vacuum.

The other concern is that the Taliban should be able to stamp out ISIS-K and other international terrorists. If there is a continued security situation, it would repel any investors. Establishing security and stability would be the prime objective of the Taliban so that investors from all across the globe especially China could work there. There is general goodwill towards China not only in Afghanistan but also in the region. People are more receptive to China and its projects than other countries. I think China can build on that.

2. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said: "We will continue to have good relations with important partners like Russia who can play a key role in the region. Relations with Moscow are primarily political and economic. Russia will continue to serve as our mediator and work with us to create conditions for international peace."How do you think the bilateral relationship will develop in the future?

Taliban know diplomacy now. They believe Russia is an important player in the Central Asian region and have developed links with them. They would not want Russia to be on the opposite side. These overtures towards Russia, however, are political. Russia doesn’t have the economic capital to hugely invest in Afghanistan. It doesn’t share a border with Afghanistan like China. On the political front, Russia also has shown some positive signs of working with the Taliban. For Russia too, the main concern is security. It doesn’t want ISIS-K to operate out of Afghanistan and make security issues for Central Asia and Russia. Russia believes that the Taliban is their best bet to counter that threat. And they would be willing to support the Taliban for that purpose. IT would not mean undermining China though. Because China also has the same security concerns.

On the economic front, the Taliban don’t expect much from Russia nor does Russia have any such desire. For Russia, security will dominate the relations. I think the Taliban are cognizant of the fact that the only genuine economic partner could be China.

At the moment, the biggest challenge for the Taliban is to get recognized and become a normal and legitimate country. That is why they are sending all the positive signals in every capital.

Editor Assistant Research Fellow: Xianglin Gu



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