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China urges US to avoid playing 'double standards' in Afghanistan

File photo of China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi

China has advised the United States to “positively guide” the Taliban instead of practicing “double standards” on fighting terrorism in Afghanistan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told his American counterpart Antony Blinken that the US should take firm action to help the Taliban combat terrorism rather than acting selectively.

"While respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, the US should take concrete action to help Afghanistan fight terrorism and stop violence, rather than playing double standards or fighting terrorism selectively," Wang said during a phone conversation initiated by Blinken on Sunday.

Warning that the "hasty withdrawal" of US-led foreign forces from the war-torn nation could allow terrorist groups to "regroup and come back stronger," the top Chinese diplomat further emphasized that the international community should engage with the Taliban and "positively guide" them.

“The United States, in particular,” should work with the international community to provide economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, help the new rulers run affairs normally, maintain social stability, and stop the currency from depreciating and the cost of living from rising, Wang said as cited in a report by China’s official Xinhua news agency.  

According to the report, Wang’s remarks came in response to Blinken’s insistence that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should speak in “a clear and unified voice to show that the international community expects the Taliban to ensure the safe evacuation of foreign citizens and the Afghan people's access to humanitarian assistance, and to guarantee that Afghan territory cannot become a hotbed of terrorist attacks or a safe haven for terrorism.”

The Chinese foreign minister then pointed out that Washington is clearly aware of “the causes of the current chaotic situation in Afghanistan.”

He said that any action by the UNSC “should contribute to easing tensions instead of intensifying them, and contribute to a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan rather than a return to turmoil.”

Reflecting on the US version of the phone conversation, State Department spokesperson Ned Price declared in a Sunday statement that Blinken and Wang spoke about "the importance of the international community holding the Taliban accountable for the public commitments they have made regarding the safe passage and freedom to travel for Afghans and foreign nationals."

The United States conducted a drone strike in Kabul on Sunday, the second such attack in two days, against suspected Daesh planners. The Taliban condemned the strikes as illegal, saying the US should have consulted with them before carrying out the strikes.

The attacks came after two suicide bombings at the Kabul airport killed 13 American servicemen and at least 170 Afghan civilians on Thursday.

Prior to the chaos of the past two weeks, US officials had argued that withdrawing from Afghanistan would free up time and attention of American political and military leaders, as well as some military assets, to focus on the Indo-Pacific and the challenge posed by China, which the Biden administration has declared as its top foreign policy priority.

In a phone call on August 16, a day after the Taliban took control of Kabul, Wang warned Blinken that the hasty pullout from Afghanistan had a "serious negative impact," but still vowed to cooperate with Washington to bring stability to the impoverished country. 

Wang, however, noted that Washington could not expect Beijing's cooperation if it was also trying to "contain and suppress China and harm China's legitimate rights and interests."

Relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades. Making matters even worse, the US released an intelligence assessment into the origins of COVID-19 last week that China said "wrongly" claimed Beijing was hindering the investigation and dismissed it as "not scientifically credible."

During the Sunday conversation, Wang further reiterated that Beijing will consider how to engage with Washington based on its attitude towards China, stressing that if the US side hopes to bring bilateral ties back on the right track, “it should stop blindly smearing and attacking China, and stop undermining China's sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Wang told Blinken that China “resolutely opposes” the so-called investigation report on COVID-19 origins, calling on Washington to “stop politicizing the COVID-19 origins tracing, stop putting pressure on the World Health Organization, and stop interfering with and undermining the international community's solidarity against the pandemic.”

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