China became the first country to appoint an ambassador to Afghanistan, after the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021.
Beijing announced on September 13 that its ambassador’s credentials were officially presented to the Taliban government during a special ceremony in Kabul.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that the appointment of the new ambassador is aimed at developing cooperation and dialogue between the two countries.
It described Beijing’s orientations towards Afghanistan as both ‘firm’ and ‘clear’.
For his part, the deputy spokesman of the Taliban government, Bilal Karimi, said the Chinese envoy is the first foreign ambassador to his after the Taliban took power.
He added that the Afghan government had approved his appointment documents.
Diplomatic steps, interrelated interests
China’s move to appoint an ambassador to Afghanistan follows Beijing’s clear policies towards the Taliban.
China was one of the most important countries that had good relations with the Taliban during the armed conflict in the country before the military withdrawal of the United States and NATO.
Interrelated interests between the two parties clearly emerged during the negotiations between the Taliban and the US government before the signing of the Doha agreement in February 2020.
China and the Taliban exchanged political and diplomatic delegations to consolidate the rules of cooperation between them during various stages.
On September 22, 2019, the head of the Taliban’s political bureau in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, referred to talks with Chinese officials, including the peace envoy to Afghanistan.
The talks, he said, covered the US agreement.
This means that Beijing and the Taliban had special understandings that were implicitly taken into account when drafting the Doha Agreement.
The meetings of the two parties included reviewing the terms of the agreement before it was signed by the Taliban, according to officials, which contributed to the argument that the regional forces cooperating with the Taliban, especially China and Russia, had a hidden role as political pressure cards used in achieving the movement’s most important goals in the journey back to power.
After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, China was one of the leading candidate countries for recognizing the new government of the movement.
Vice President of the Asian Programme at the Wilson International Centre for Research in Washington, Michael Gockelman, who also contributes to the Journal of International Politics, said China is the closest to international recognition of the Taliban.
He told The Reference that Beijing does this because of the presence of common interests with the Taliban.
He added that Western countries would not recognize the Taliban in the near term because they would need indicators of the movement’s ability to maintain security and respect political variables related to human rights, women and pluralism.