The Taliban conducted a grand ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul to extend a warm welcome to Zhao Sheng, China's newly appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.
China is one of the few nations, alongside Pakistan, Iran, and Russia, to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained control of the country in 2021.
During the palace ceremony, Taliban Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund greeted Zhao Sheng and accepted his credentials as the new Chinese Ambassador, as stated by the prime minister's office on social media.
In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid conveyed that the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to China's leadership for appointing Mr. Zhao Sheng and expressed optimism that this appointment would elevate diplomatic relations to a new level, marking the beginning of a new chapter.
Ambassador Zhao emphasized that China is a good neighbor to Afghanistan and fully respects its independence, territorial integrity, and decision-making autonomy. He assured that China does not seek to interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs or establish it as an area of influence.
The Taliban Prime Minister acknowledged the positive state of bilateral relations and expressed hope for further strengthening these ties.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that Ambassador Zhao's appointment follows the normal rotation of China's ambassador to Afghanistan and aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between the two nations.
China has been cautious about the security challenges posed by the Taliban's rapid return following the US withdrawal in 2021. Nevertheless, Chinese officials have emphasized the importance of cooperation with Afghanistan and regional neighbors on issues like anti-terrorism efforts, economic collaboration, and regional stability.
In a meeting in May, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan pledged to enhance trilateral relations on security and counterterrorism. They also agreed to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, facilitating connectivity, cross-border trade, economic integration, and sustainable development among the three nations.
CPEC, a significant Belt and Road initiative, links China's Xinjiang region to Pakistan's Gwadar port and encompasses various infrastructure projects, demonstrating China's substantial investment in the region.