Conflict cafe

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-29 19:08:01

Even though they speak different languages, Jia is capable of communicating with the restaurant's six Afghan employees. Photo: IC


Chinese people do business all around the world, even in the most dangerous places. Despite the war and the ongoing threat from terrorism, a handful of Chinese businesspeople are still making money in Afghanistan. One of the most well-known Chinese businesses in the country is a restaurant in the capital Kabul.

Hidden in a low building among embassies, the restaurant has been operating for 13 years. In order not to bring unwanted attention, there is no sign hanging outside. Many Chinese enterprises and people left the country when the safety situation deteriorated in 2012. There used to be around 15 Chinese restaurants in Afghanistan during the peak time, but now only one remains open.

Like most migrant workers, the only chef in the restaurant, Jia Yongxue, left his home in Shandong Province to make money. He came to Afghanistan in April 2009 after telling his family he was going to be a chef in Japan. He didn't fully understand what he was getting into until he landed and began a life there. Bombings and gunfire are frequently heard, and the restaurant's windows are shaken by the roar of fighter planes. Once he had to hide in the basement with diners for a whole day to avoid the fierce fighting outside.

Jia tries to avoid leaving his restaurant, and only goes shopping in the market when necessary. He keeps dogs and has planted vegetables and Chinese roses in the backyard behind the barbed wire-topped walls, creating a cozy and safe oasis in the tense environment.

All the seasonings used in the kitchen are imported from China, and Jia hand-makes many ingredients and brews his own wine for the restaurant to cater to the needs of local Chinese people, journalists from all over the world, and even soldiers and secret agents.

Global Times

Walking the streets of Kabul, one can see soldiers everywhere. Photo: IC

The restaurant is a meeting place for Chinese people in Afghanistan. Photo: IC

Jia receives an American diner. Photo: IC


A soldier patrols the area outside the restaurant. Photo: IC

An employee confirms the identity of a visitor before they are allowed into the restaurant. Photo: IC


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