China plans to provide aid and COVID-19 vaccines to the Taliban-run government in Afghanistan in a move to strengthen ties between China and the newly formed government. The new government of Afghanistan was established by the Taliban following the withdrawal of United States and NATO forces and the violent overthrow of the country’s constitutionally elected republic.
Last week, the Taliban announced its interim cabinet, declaring Afghanistan to be an “Islamic Emirate.” While President Joe Biden’s administration has recently praised the Taliban for its “professional” and “businesslike” behavior in letting stranded Americans escape the country, Biden said that the United States is still a “long way off” from recognizing Afghanistan’s new de facto government.
China will provide around $31 million in food, winter weather supplies, vaccines, and medicine to the government of Afghanistan, China’s Foreign Ministry said this week. The ministry stated that it was a “necessary step to restore order” in Afghanistan.
“Hua Chunyin, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said the decision was announced during the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and would be ‘for emergency use to the Afghan people,’” CNN reported.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also stated that China will provide Afghanistan with three million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first round, according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. The ministry did not provide details as to the distribution schedule of the vaccines.
The minister announced the aid measures for Afghanistan at a meeting on Wednesday with his counterparts from several of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries including Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, according to the BBC. The outlet reported that the Chinese minister called on the countries to cooperate in the effort to help Afghanistan, while slamming the United States and its withdrawal, which he said had “wreaked havoc” in the country.
The United States inflicted "serious damage on the Afghan people from the very first day of its invasion to the last minute of its withdrawal,” according to a Chinese state official.
"What the US did in Afghanistan over the past two decades is a textbook example which shows us the consequences of wanton military intervention and attempts to impose one's own ideology and values on others," said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin.
The BBC reports that “Taliban officials have described China as Afghanistan's most important partner and pinned hopes on Chinese investment and support to rebuild the war-torn country.”
“Beijing has made serious efforts to establish good relations with the Taliban,” the BBC reported. “Even before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, China invited representatives of the group over for talks in July, offering economic support for Afghanistan but also stressing that the country should not be used as a staging point for terrorists. However, Beijing has struggled to sell this cautious alliance to some parts of the Chinese public that are repulsed by the Taliban.”