On Wednesday, Afghan officials reported the arrival of a new Chinese ambassador who presented credentials to Kabul’s Taliban Prime Minister.
This event represents the first appointment of a foreign envoy at the ambassadorial level since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. However, it remains uncertain if this appointment indicates Beijing’s intention to formally recognize the Taliban, as no foreign government has done so officially. Requests for comments from China’s foreign ministry have gone unanswered.
In an official statement, Bilal Karimi, the deputy spokesman for the Taliban administration, announced that Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, had formally accepted the credentials of Mr. Zhao Xing, the newly designated Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan. This appointment marks the first ambassadorial designation since August 2021 when the Taliban assumed power following the withdrawal of foreign forces. Wang Yu, China’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, completed his tenure just last month.
Various nations and international delegations, including Pakistan and the European Union, have sent senior diplomats to Kabul to oversee diplomatic efforts. However, they carry the title of ‘chargee d’affaires,’ signifying their responsibility for ambassadorial duties without formally holding the ambassadorial role. Some ambassadors appointed during the previous foreign-backed Afghan government have also remained in Kabul with the same title.
This shift in diplomatic presence occurred after the Taliban took control of the capital on August 15, 2021, following the disintegration of Afghan security forces and the departure of the US-backed President Ashraf Ghani.