China exempts import tariffs, resumes issuing visas for Afghan citizens
Published: Jul 29, 2022 11:22 PM
Acting foreign minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi (left) greets China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) on his arrival at Kabul airport on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Acting foreign minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi (left) greets China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) on his arrival at Kabul airport on March 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

China is willing to share development opportunities with Afghanistan and welcome quality Afghan goods, and it hopes to see Afghanistan's inclusive governance and unswerving fight against all terrorists, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a meeting with Acting Foreign Minister of the Afghan Interim Government Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Wang and Muttaqi met on Thursday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers' meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the fourth in 2022.

China has given substantial assistance and played a constructive role in easing the humanitarian crisis and spurring the reconstruction of Afghanistan, seen through frequent interactions not only between the two foreign ministers but also through other channels, observers said. 

China is willing to share development opportunities with Afghanistan, and it supports the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to link with Afghanistan's development strategies and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to extend to Afghanistan, Wang said during the meeting.

China has waived tariffs on 98 percent of Afghan goods, and it appreciates its firm attitude toward drug control and is willing to help cultivate alternative crops, Wang said. 

Wang noted China will continue to urge the US and the West to lift their unreasonable sanctions and fulfill their primary responsibility for Afghanistan's economic reconstruction. 

It is hoped that Afghanistan can establish inclusive governance, maintain internal stability, realize ethnic harmony and unswervingly combat all terrorist groups including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Wang stressed. 

Muttaqi appreciated Chinese assistance when his country was struck by an earthquake. Afghanistan will keep upholding the one-China principle and will not allow Afghan territory to be used for anti-China activities, Muttaqi said.

The Afghan interim government hopes to refer to China's agricultural techniques and expects China to provide more support for Afghanistan in winning international recognition. 

Wang also announced that China will resume issuing visas to Afghan citizens from August 1. 

Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Friday that discussions between the two ministers are concrete and substantial, which reflected China's constructive role in easing Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis and supporting its economic reconstruction. 

The pine nuts were an iconic product Afghanistan trades with China, but it is difficult to expand the trade volume due to the war-torn country's production capabilities and transportation barriers.  

Zhu said many other Afghan agricultural products face the same situation and the country needs to learn fishing skills rather than receiving fish to really tackle its economic predicament — to enhance its production capacity, an area in which China is also offering help.

As for recognition of the interim government, Zhu said China's attitude is consistent that the Afghan Taliban shall fulfill its promises, including on anti-terrorism, to win support of the international community. "But normal interactions with the interim government should not be halted by the recognition, as the Afghan people are in urgent need of assistance and support." 

Adding up to their suffering was US' freeze of Afghan assets, which could have been used to spur economic reconstruction. 

Before the SCO meeting, Uzbekistan hosted an international conference on Afghanistan-related issues on Tuesday, with the attendance of representatives from more than 20 countries and regions and international organizations. 

Officials, analysts and the international community urged the US to unfreeze the assets and return all of the money, which belongs to the Afghan people, to help overcome the humanitarian crisis in the country, especially after a massive earthquake in June.

The assets are small in terms of the US economy, yet they could be life-saving money for war-torn Afghanistan and its people, Zhu said. 

Observers noted that China's role in Afghanistan's reconstruction is an epitome of China's role in the region — embracing cooperation, joint security and stability.