Top China diplomat Wang Yi tells US counterpart Anthony Blinken all sides must ‘proactively guide’ the Taliban

·4-min read

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday about Afghanistan, accusing Washington of using “double standards” in its efforts to eradicate terrorism in the country and urged Blinken to do more to stop the violence that has rocked Kabul.

In the first direct exchange between the two top diplomats since the suicide bombings that killed about 170 Afghans last week, Wang told Blinken that the military withdrawals by the US and Nato members following the Taliban’s takeover of the country “are very likely to offer opportunities for a resurgence of all terrorist groups inside Afghanistan”, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

While Wang called for “all sides to contact and proactively guide the Taliban”, he warned that coordination between China and the US would depend on Washington’s policies towards Beijing in other areas, including efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Pushback by Beijing against the World Health Organization (WTO) and the US over access to information about the earliest known Covid-19 cases in China prompted US President Biden to order his intelligence community to conduct a three-month investigation into whether the contagion might have escaped from a lab.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Wang over the phone on Sunday. Photo: AFP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Wang over the phone on Sunday. Photo: AFP

That probe failed to reach a conclusive assessment, according to a US government announcement on Friday, and Biden vowed to push China further on the issue.

“China will consider how to contact the US based on the US‘s attitude towards China,” the ministry’s announcement on Sunday quoted Wang as saying. “If the US wants bilateral relations back to a normal track, it should stop smearing China, hurting China’s interests on sovereignty, security and development.

“The US should take seriously the two lists and three bottom lines raised by China”, Wang said, referring to the outcome of his meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman last month.

Why China is in no rush to endorse the Taliban in Afghanistan

The ministry also claimed that “Blinken said he understands and respects China‘s concerns on Afghanistan issues” and that “the US thinks the [United Nations] Security Council should send a clear and unified voice on the issue.

Later on Sunday, State Department spokesman Ned Price issued a brief statement saying that Blinken and Wang spoke “about the importance of the international community holding the Taliban accountable for the public commitments they have made regarding the safe passage and freedom to travel for Afghans and foreign nationals”.

In a call between Wang and Blinken earlier in August, shortly after the Taliban established control over most of Afghanistan, the two discussed how the two countries could work together to achieve a “soft landing” for the country.

In interviews with ABC and NBC earlier on Sunday, Blinken did not mention the exchange with Wang, and instead focused on the continuing airlift operations in Kabul, which he said have evacuated about 110,000 people since they began two weeks ago.

US vows to isolate Taliban if it prevents evacuations from Afghanistan

Blinken touted a joint statement by the US, Nato, the EU and nearly 100 other countries about their expectations that the Taliban will allow the evacuation of their citizens and other individuals that they have authorised for departure. China was not included in the statement.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement said.

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries,” it added.

Additional reporting by Wendy Wu

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Top China diplomat Wang Yi tells US counterpart Anthony Blinken all sides must ‘proactively guide’ the Taliban first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting