China Hosts Meeting With Taliban, Calls Them 'Important to Peace' as US Leaves Afghanistan

China hosted a meeting with a visiting Taliban delegation, who China believes is "important to peace" in rebuilding Afghanistan as the U.S. prepares to pull the last of its troops from the country.

Days after meeting with U.S. officials in the northern port city of Tajin, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed nine Taliban representatives—including the group's co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar—on their two-day trip, during which they discussed the Taliban's role in ending Afghanistan's war and other security issues, according to a Taliban spokesperson.

"Politics, economy and issues related to the security of both countries and the current situation of Afghanistan and the peace process were discussed in the meetings," Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Naeem tweeted.

In a readout of the meeting from China's foreign ministry, Wang told the Taliban that Beijing expected the group to "play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan."

He also said he hoped that the Taliban would crackdown on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as it is a "direct threat to China's national security," referencing the group's alleged activity in China's western Xinjiang region.

The visit is likely to further strengthen the Taliban on an international stage during a time when violence is reportedly increasing in Afghanistan. This month, the militants have hosted peace talks at their office in Qatar and sent representatives to Iran to meet with the current Afghan government on the future of the country.

In recent weeks, the Taliban has quickly captured a number of border crossings and took over districts around Afghanistan as peace talks stall in Doha, Qatar.

Taliban China Afghanistan War Security Peace
Days after meeting with U.S. officials in the northern port city of Tajin, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed nine Taliban representatives to discuss the peace process and security issues. Members of the Taliban delegation look on during the presentation of the final declaration of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar's capital Doha on July 18, 2021. Karim Jaafar/AFP

China has increasingly expressed support for the Taliban as security in Afghanistan deteriorates ahead of the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

Beijing has said it fears that neighboring Afghanistan could be used as a staging ground for separatists.

"(The) delegation assured China that they will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against China," Naeem said. "China also reiterated its commitment of continuation of their assistance with Afghans and said they will not interfere in Afghanistan's issues but will help to solve the problems and restoration of peace in the country."

The Taliban has continued to reach out to countries in the region, like China, in hopes of setting the group up to be a major player in the running of Afghanistan.

While the Taliban has stated that it would not monopolize power in the region, the group has said a peace deal will not be reached if Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to be removed and replaced with a new government.

"I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press last week. "So we do not want to repeat that same formula."