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China tells US to stop imposing its norms on world after Afghanistan debacle

A US soldier (C) points his gun towards an Afghan passenger at the airport in Kabul, where chaotic scenes unfolded after the Taliban took over the country.

China has called on the US to ponder on the recent advice of Russian President Vladimir Putin to quit imposing American norms on other nations after the Afghanistan fiasco.

"President Putin's view should provoke some reflection in the US," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a regular press briefing. "There isn't one fixed form of democracy in the world."  

"Every country is entitled to independently explore paths of development that suit their national conditions and realities," he said.

The example of Afghanistan, he said, demonstrates that attempts to "transplant" and force a democratic model on others will only "create chaos and instability, ultimately resulting in failure."

His remarks came a day after Putin described the outcome of the US-led 20-year invasion of Afghanistan as nothing but “tragedies and losses,” saying, "The result was zero, if not to say that everything turned negative."

"For 20 years, American troops had been on this territory and for 20 years they tried — one can say this without offending anyone — to civilize the people who live there, to introduce their norms and standards of life in the broadest sense of the word, including the political organization of society," he said.

The Chinese spokesman also stressed that democracy "is not a patent held by select countries.”

"There is no 'leader of democracy' in the world, nor does any country have the right to lecture others on democracy."

He described the concepts of "an alliance of democracies" and "democracy versus authoritarianism" as "hegemony in disguise," expressing hope that “the US will earnestly reflect upon the lessons learned and stops peddling its own ideology and values to others."

Taliban counting on Chinese financial assistance

The development came amid reports that the Taliban have declared their intention to mainly rely on China for financing the country’s battered economy following the withdrawal of US-led forces.

The Taliban are unlikely to gain swift access to roughly $10 billion in assets being held abroad by the Afghan central bank after the US froze them.

In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica on Thursday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group will fight for an economic comeback with the help of China.

“China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country,” Mujahid said.

After the chaotic departure of US-led troops from Kabul airport in recent weeks, Western governments have blocked or severely restricted their aid payments to Afghanistan.

The Taliban spokesman further said the New Silk Road – an infrastructure initiative with which Beijing intends to open up trade routes – was held in high regard by the new rulers of Afghanistan.

There are “rich copper mines in the country, which, thanks to the Chinese, can be put back into operation and modernized. In addition, China is our pass to markets all over the world,” he said.

Mujahid tweeted early Friday that China's foreign ministry had promised to keep its embassy in Afghanistan open and to "beef up" relations and humanitarian assistance.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan and urged countries to provide emergency funding as severe drought and war have forced thousands of families to flee their homes.

US President Joe Biden, however, boasted on Tuesday that the messy evacuation of American troops from Afghanistan had been an "extraordinary success," despite mounting criticism of the operation.

Formation of new government 

The Taliban were expected to form a government as early as Friday amid intense international scrutiny over their vow to rule Afghanistan with greater tolerance, especially on women's rights.

AFP quoted two unnamed Taliban sources as saying that the announcement of a new administration could be made after Friday afternoon prayers.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will lead a new Afghan government set to be announced shortly, Reuters reported, citing sources in the group. 

Baradar, who heads the Taliban's political office, will be joined by Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of late Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, in senior positions in the government, the news agency reported. 

According to AFP, while the West has adopted a wait-and-see approach to the Taliban, there were some signs of engagement with the new leaders gathering pace.

The United Nations said it had restarted humanitarian flights to parts of the country, linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and Kandahar in the south.

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