Taliban government held a grand ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul on Wednesday to welcome Zhao Sheng, the new Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan. Zhao is one of a few ambassadors from other countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and Russia, who have remained in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained control of the country in 2021.
During the ceremony, Taliban Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund shook hands with Zhao and accepted his credentials as the new Chinese ambassador.
The Taliban government’s prime minister thanked China’s leadership for appointing Zhao Sheng as its new ambassador to Afghanistan. He expressed hope that this appointment would improve diplomatic relations between the two countries and mark the beginning of a new chapter.
According to the prime minister’s office, Zhao said that China is a good neighbor of Afghanistan and fully respects Afghanistan’s independence, territorial integrity, and decision-making independence. Zhao added that China does not have a policy of interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and does not want Afghanistan to become its sphere of influence.
The Taliban prime minister said relations between the two countries had “been on a good level” and “expressed his hope for taking more steps to further strengthen the bilateral relations,” according to Mujahid.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement the appointment was the “normal rotation of China’s ambassador to Afghanistan” and was “intended to continue advancing dialogue and cooperation” between the two countries.
The ministry said, “China’s policy toward Afghanistan is clear and consistent.”
China, a neighbor of Afghanistan with substantial investment in the region, was cautious about the potential security challenges posed by the abrupt return of the Taliban following the US withdrawal in August 2021.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, China has stressed the importance of increasing cooperation with Afghanistan and other regional neighbors on issues such as counterterrorism, economic collaboration, and regional stability and development.
In May 2023, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan vowed to strengthen trilateral ties on security and counterterrorism at a meeting of the three countries’ foreign ministers in Islamabad. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang said that China attaches “great importance to the friendship with Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The three countries also agreed to cooperate on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trade and infrastructure program through which China has heavily invested in the region. They also agreed to forge closer economic ties by extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan. CPEC is a $60 billion Belt and Road flagship project that links China’s western Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with a network of roads, railways, pipelines, and power plants.