China hints at providing financial aid to Taliban controlled Afghanistan

Beijing, Aug 23 (PTI) China on Monday hinted at stepping up financial assistance to the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, saying it will play a positive role in helping the war-ravaged country amid global pushback to stop funding to Kabul until the Afghan militant group modified its hardline religious policies.

In his media briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin hit out at the US saying it is “main perpetrator” for the Afghan crisis and Washington cannot leave without doing anything for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

Asked for his reaction to comments by Afghanistan’s exiled central bank chief stating that the Taliban may go to China and Pakistan to replace the US for financial assistance, Wang said, “I want to stress that the US is the main perpetrator and biggest external factor for the Afghan issue. It cannot leave the mess without doing anything.”

“We hope the US will match its words with deeds and shoulder its responsibility to honour its own commitments in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction,” he said.

Despite the chaotic end to its presence in Afghanistan, the US still has control over billions of dollars belonging to the Afghan central bank, money that Washington is making sure remains out of the reach of the Taliban, the New York Times reported last week.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York held about USD seven billion of Afghanistan’s central bank’s USD nine billion in foreign reserves and the Biden administration has already moved to block access to that money.

The Taliban’s access to the other money could also be restricted by the long reach of American sanctions and influence.

The International Monetary Fund said earlier that it would block Afghanistan’s access to about USD 460 million in emergency reserves. The decision followed pressure from the Biden administration to ensure that the reserves did not reach the Taliban, the NYT report said.

Money from an agreement reached in November among more than 60 countries to provide USD 12 billion to Afghanistan over the next four years is also in doubt, it said.

Earlier, Germany said it would not provide grants to Afghanistan if the Taliban took over and introduced Sariah law and the EU said no payments were going to Afghanistan until officials “clarify the situation.”

Wang said, “China always adopts a friendly policy towards entire Afghan people” and provided substantial assistance to socio- economic development to Afghanistan.

“We hope there will be an early end to the chaos and wars in the country, it can resume financial order at an early date. China will also play a positive role in helping the country in self capacity building, peace, reconstruction and improvement of peoples’ livelihoods, he said.

About Taliban’s statement that it will soon announce a political framework for Afghanistan, Wang said, “we noted these report”.

“China’s position on the Afghan issue is consistent and clear cut. We hope Afghanistan can form an inclusive open broad-based government which adopts a foreign and domestic policy that is prudent and moderate so as to echo and meet the aspiration and shared will of the international community and its own people, he said.

Asked about security of Chinese nationals in Afghanistan amid efforts by many countries to evacuate their nationals, Wang said China is closely following the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel in Afghanistan.

“Now our Embassy there is operating normally. Most Chinese nationals in Afghanistan have returned to China beforehand with the arrangement made by our embassy, he said.

“With regards to the few Chinese who stayed there, our embassy has stayed in close contact with them (and) given them guidelines on strengthening the awareness of safety and taken relevant measures coordinated with the Afghanistan side to offer security guarantees for them, he said.