As the Taleban gains ground, China prepares to embrace an unsettling reality


Foreign Minister Wang Yi stood shoulder to shoulder with a visiting Taleban official dressed in a traditional tunic and turban in a series of images broadcast by Chinese state media last month, raising eyebrows on the country’s social media.
Since then, China’s propaganda machine has been discreetly preparing its people to accept an increasingly possible scenario in which Beijing will be forced to recognise the Taleban, a hardline Islamist movement quickly gaining territory in Afghanistan, as a legitimate government.
On Thursday, an influential social media pundit familiar with China’s foreign policy thinking tweeted, “Even if they can’t govern the entire country, they would still be a serious force to deal with” (Aug 12).
On his WeChat channel, the pundit, who goes by the pen name Niutanqin, or Zither-Playing Cow, made the remarks.
China, which has regarded religious fanaticism as a destabilising element in its western Xinjiang province and has long feared that Taleban-controlled territory will be used to harbour separatist troops, is uncomfortable with the Taleban’s momentum as US soldiers exit.
China, on the other hand, adheres to a policy of non-interference in other countries domestic affairs.
It has also tightened security in Xinjiang, strengthening its borders and detaining at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in detention centres that China characterises as vocational training facilities to help root out Islamist extremism and separatism


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