Chinese envoy to UN urges US to unfreeze Afghan assets to avert humanitarian crisis
Published: Dec 23, 2021 08:51 PM
People receive relief assistance donated by a local philanthropist in Nahr Shahi district of Balkh province, Afghanistan, Nov. 21, 2021.Photo:Xinhua

People receive relief assistance donated by a local philanthropist in Nahr Shahi district of Balkh province, Afghanistan, November 21, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese envoy to the UN called on the US to unfreeze Afghanistan's overseas assets as soon as possible so as to help Afghanistan ease a humanitarian crisis.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2615 on Wednesday, making it clear that humanitarian assistance and other activities to support basic humanitarian needs in Afghanistan do not violate the sanctions from Resolution 1988 of the UN Security Council.   

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, spoke after the passing of the resolution. Zhang described it as helpful in clearing doubts and obstacles regarding the continuation of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan.

In 2011, the Security Council passed Resolution 1988, which imposed sanctions on Afghan Taliban-related individuals and entities. However, with the Taliban in de facto control of Afghanistan, there is a great deal of uncertainty about whether aid is in violation of Resolution 1988.  

Zhang likened the adopting of the resolution to fixing a blocked faucet. However, to fill in the pipe with water needs global efforts. According to a UN report published in October, 22.8 million Afghans will face a crisis or emergency levels of severe food insecurity from November 2021 and March 2022, a 35 percent increase over the same period last year.  

China calls on the international community to step up assistance and actively provide financial assistance, said Zhang. All the more, the countries that have caused the current predicament in Afghanistan have the obligation to take the lead and shoulder the main responsibility, Zhang said. 

The Afghan economy is severely illiquid and on the verge of collapse, said Zhang, "China again calls for the early unfreezing of Afghan overseas assets."

The international community is at impasse in avoiding further Afghan humanitarian crisis since the Taliban took over Kabul in August. The US has frozen $9.5 billion in assets of Afghanistan's central bank.  

"The US cannot simply walk away from a catastrophe of its own making, and watch as it threatens other regional countries … the US government has an obligation and a responsibility to do what it can to make up for its mistakes in Afghanistan," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

This is not only China's call, but also the call of the international community, said Qian. 

Media reported that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday released three licenses, allowing US government officials and international agencies, to conduct "official business" with the Taliban. However, experts believe that the US cannot peel off its hypocrisy until the issue of frozen assets is solved.  

The fundamental way to avert the crisis in Afghanistan lies in the $9.5 billion assets frozen by the US, said Qian, noting that the US is actually using the livelihoods of Afghans as a bargaining chip, forcing the Taliban to make deals in the interests of the US. 

It is selfish and irresponsible to put politics ahead of humanitarian issues in Afghanistan,Qian said. 

As for China's solution, experts and officials emphasized communication with the Taliban while working to avert the war-torn country from sinking into a deeper crisis. 

Zhang pointed out that humanitarian aid is only an immediate solution, while helping Afghanistan to develop its economy is the fundamental way.  

"The international community should stay in contact with and positively guide the Afghan Taliban to promote economic and social recovery and reconstruction," Zhang said.