Xi receives Afghan envoy as Taliban seek recognition

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Xi welcomed Bilal Karimi, the Taliban-appointed Afghan ambassador, in a formal ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, along with ambassadors from Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and 38 other countries.

News Desk

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday received the credentials of ambassadors from several countries, including neighboring Afghanistan, in what amounts to the first official recognition of the interim Taliban government by a major nation.

Xi welcomed Bilal Karimi, the Taliban-appointed Afghan ambassador, in a formal ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, along with ambassadors from Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and 38 other countries.

“China has understood what the rest of the world has not,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesperson, said Tuesday at an event on the social media platform X.

“We are not in a unipolar world,” Mujahid said while calling on Russia, Iran and other countries to take similar steps and upgrade bilateral diplomatic relations with Kabul.

Xi told the new ambassadors that China is seeking deep friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with their countries, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said whether Beijing has officially recognized the Taliban regime is for Chinese officials to clarify.

“I have seen some comments from them to the contrary,” Miller told media on Tuesday. For the United States, Miller said, the Taliban’s relationship with the international community depends on their actions.

“China may be getting ready to break ranks and take the final technical step either within the U.N. system or outside of it through a bilateral initiative,” Omar Samad, a former Afghan ambassador, wrote to US media.

Javid Ahmad, Afghan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates under the former Afghan government, called the Chinese move an act of recognition.

“The signal is unmistakable, as no head of state would accept ambassadorial credentials unless they recognize the government. In this instance, the Chinese leadership is treating the Taliban envoy in the same manner as other ambassadors, a clear indication of recognition,” Ahmad told media.

While China’s recognition marks a significant step, it remains an isolated one. No other major nation has recognized the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” and the United Nations has repeatedly denied their requests for representation at the world body.

The United States and European countries have imposed economic and political sanctions on Taliban leaders and entities, accusing them of grave human rights violations, particularly concerning women’s rights to education and work.

Since reclaiming power in August 2021, the Taliban have steadily established control over many Afghan diplomatic missions, primarily in neighboring countries. The group now oversees embassies in at least 14 countries, including Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Some countries, including Russia, China and Iran, have maintained their embassies in Kabul.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in New York that Moscow had not recognized the Taliban regime because of political and human rights considerations.

“We, as the rest of the U.N. members, do not officially recognize the Taliban,” Lavrov said through a translator.

Last month, the U.N. Security Council authorized the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan to facilitate coordinated international engagement with de facto Taliban authorities.