China is the ‘most important partner’ for the Taliban, militants say – ‘Swing in on scale’

CHINA is considered the “most important partner” for the Taliban, a spokesperson for the militant group has said.

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Italian newspaper La Repubblica the militant group will rely mainly on finances from China. In an interview the Taliban spokesperson said: “China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country.”

In an interview the Taliban spokesperson said: “China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country.”

He also said this week he hoped China would provide a gateway for Afghanistan into global markets.

He said: “China is our principal partner and for us represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity because it’s ready to invest in and reconstruct our country.

“We hold in high regard the One Belt One Road project that will serve to revive the ancient Silk Road.

Taliban militant

The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addresses a press conference in Kabul. (Image: PA)

Afghanistan

People leaving Afghanistan (Image: PA)

“Beyond that, we have rich copper mines which thanks to the Chinese can be brought back into production and modernised.”

The comments follow the chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan before the August 31 deadline ending 20 years of US military intervention.

China has been known to take part in investment and infrastructure projects with the New Silk Road initiative but Afghanistan will have to prove it has stability before Beijing increases investment in the region.

Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States Asia programme, echoed this sentiment about China’s aid being dependent.

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Taliban

Taliban militant (Image: PA)

He told Al Jazeera: “China doesn’t do large scale aid; it will provide aid in modest terms, it will provide humanitarian assistance and it’s not going to bail out a new government.

“It might do some smaller scale investments but those longer term investments will depend on there being enough stability in the country and enough security in the country for these to turn into something that’s economically viable.

“So there’s still some limitations to what China’s going to be willing to do economically, even if it continues to be happy and the Taliban are keen to be able to send these signals that China’s willing to swing in on scale.”

China has a long-standing relationship with the Taliban after investing heavily in Afghanistan in the 1990s when the militant group had control over the region.

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Afghan timeline

Timeline of Afghanistan (Image: Express)

Afghan refugees

Afghan refugees arriving to the UK (Image: Express)

The two countries also share a narrow international border.

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