China’s state-run Global Times newspaper celebrated the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban jihadist organization Sunday as a “complete humiliation” for the United States, shortly before the Foreign Ministry hinted it would be open to friendly ties with a new Taliban regime.
Taliban fighters surrounded Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on Sunday following a months-long campaign to sweep control of most of the rest of the nation out of the hands of the former government of the country. The Taliban launched its military campaign in April, after President Joe Biden announced he would break a deal brokered by predecessor Donald Trump last year that would have seen American troops fully withdraw from the country by May 1 in exchange for Taliban fighters abstaining from attacks on Americans and breaking ties with al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups.
In response to the Taliban’s arrival at the outskirts of the city, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. His whereabouts remain unknown at press time. In a press conference late on Sunday, the Taliban, from the Afghan presidential palace, announced it had become the ruling government of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and essentially marked the end of the 20-year Afghan War.
Global Times deployed columnist Martin Jacques to declare the fall of Kabul “a complete humiliation for the U.S.,” noting the Taliban was in power when America invaded in 2001 and the objective of that mission eventually morphed into propping up a legitimate alternative government to the radical Islamist terrorists. At press time, Biden has ordered 7,000 troops back into Afghanistan to help U.S. citizens trapped in Kabul while the Taliban builds its government, calling into question if he will meet his own August 31 deadline to withdraw troops from the country.
“The U.S. is confronted with a historic defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban. America’s longest war, which began in 2001, is ending in complete humiliation,” Jacques, the Chinese newspaper columnist, wrote on Sunday. The last two decades have been disastrous for the U.S.”
Jacques wrote that the 2000 presidential election was “was supposed to mark, according to its neo-conservative doctrine, the beginning of a new American century” but instead “led to the humiliating defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan followed in 2008 by the worst financial crisis since 1931.” He went on to insist the Taliban jihadist organization “clearly enjoys considerable backing amongst the people” and was more popular than America.
The column’s main argument deviated from mockery of the United States to touting all the potential good that the Communist Party could do for a Taliban government in Afghanistan. Taliban representatives have repeatedly spoken highly of Beijing and expressed interest in its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), a global infrastructure program in which China offers predatory loans to poor countries to be used to build infrastructure projects managed by Chinese companies.
Jacques wrote that China will want to involve itself in Afghanistan through the BRI.
“China’s approach, in contrast, will be completely different. There will be no military involvement. The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will have no role,” the article read. “It lies at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative. The fact that China has been a developing country since 1949 gives it an understanding, and empathy with, the problems of the developing world. The US, as a rich society, has little comprehension of, or interest in, their problems.”
Elsewhere in its pages, the Global Times cited its traditional stable of “experts” to reaffirm the message that China would “contribute to post-war reconstruction and development,” in Afghanistan, “pushing forward projects under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) when safety and stability are restored in the war-torn country.” One such expert, “Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Lanzhou University,” commended the Taliban for not committing a massacre in Kabul on Sunday.
“We didn’t see massacres or women get abused, and most major cities were captured without a fight. There are some accusations against the Taliban, but we didn’t see hard evidence yet,” Zhu said. “The US embassy’s evacuation also didn’t get interrupted or attacked even though the Taliban troops have already entered Kabul. All of this shows that the war won’t end violently.”
China has hosted talks with the Taliban this year and has openly expressed interest in working with the jihadist organization, so long as it does not question China’s ongoing genocide of Muslims in Xinjiang, a territory that shares a border with Afghanistan. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post‘s weekly magazine that the Taliban would like to see Chinese investment in the country “as soon as possible.”
“China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan,” the spokesman asserted. The Taliban has refused to condemn the genocide of Muslims in China despite its status as one of the world’s most prominent fundamentalist Islamist organizations.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday that China would “respect the will and choice of the Afghan people,” implying that a forced Taliban takeover of the country was a choice made by Afghan citizens.
“We hope the Afghan Taliban can form solidarity with all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and build a broad-based and inclusive political structure suited to the national realities, so as to lay the foundation for achieving enduring peace in the country,” Hua later added, noting that the Taliban had expressed interest in growing “sound relations with China,” which China “welcome[d].”
“We are ready to continue to develop good-neighborliness and friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction,” she added.
Hua did not answer a question asking if China would recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.