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China emphasizes 'non-interference' on Afghanistan as diplomats remain in Kabul

China emphasizes 'non-interference' on Afghanistan as diplomats remain in Kabul
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that Beijng has not evacuated its diplomats in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- China is taking a cautious approach to Afghanistan as the Taliban assumed control of the capital, and Afghans, as well as foreign nationals, were seen fleeing the country from the airport in Kabul.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday at a regular press briefing that Beijing "respects the will and choice of the Afghan people," but also noted that the "situation in Afghanistan has undergone major changes."

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Hua's statement comes after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with the head of the Afghan Taliban political committee Mullah Abdul Ghani in Tianjin on July 28.

Hua said that China at the time "expressed the hope that all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan will unite ... and independently establish a broad-based and inclusive political structure that suits Afghanistan's national conditions."

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"This is China's consistent position on the Afghan issue," Hua said without providing further details.

The Chinese spokeswoman later clarified her comment, saying China's position on Afghanistan is "non-interference" and "respect [for] the right of people of all countries to independently choose their development path and decide their destiny and future."

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Beijing may be prioritizing good relations with the Taliban after the takeover of Kabul. Hua said China's diplomats in the country have not been evacuated despite incidents of violence in the capital.

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Claude Rakisits, a former Australian security official, told the Financial Times that the Taliban will likely prioritize strong ties with China if "that means lots of Chinese investment into Afghanistan."

Liu Zongyi, a foreign policy analyst at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said China has no interest in interfering in Afghanistan.

Liu also said China secured a promise from the Taliban last month; the group pledged to not use Afghanistan as a terrorist base to attack China.

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"We'll see if the Taliban keeps its promise or not," Liu said.

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