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China Attending Virtual Meeting on Afghanistan

September 16, 2021

BEIJING — China says it will attend a virtual meeting of Central and South Asian state leaders to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The meeting of members of the China and Russia dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization is scheduled for Thursday and hosted by Tajikistan. Afghanistan is an observer member of the grouping, but it wasn’t clear if any representatives from the Taliban leadership would be attending.

China hasn’t said whether it will recognize the new Afghan authorities who have excluded outside parties and women, although it has courted its leadership and kept its Kabul Embassy open.

The government and state media have accused the United States of destabilizing Afghanistan through what it calls a hasty and chaotic withdrawal of its troops, even as the Taliban swiftly overcame Afghan government forces over recent weeks.

China has used the Shanghai Cooperation to boost its standing in Central Asia through political dialogue and joint military exercises, aimed largely at diminishing U.S. influence in the region.

Beijing has also called on the Taliban to hold to its pledge to restrain militants seeking independence for the traditionally Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged the group to keep border crossings open, while offering $31 million in humanitarian assistance, along with 3 million doses of Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines.

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