China's special envoy on Afghan affairs urges US to unfreeze Afghanistan assets
Published: Feb 20, 2024 07:52 PM
China's special envoy on Afghan affairs Yue Xiaoyong (file photo) Photo:VCG

China's special envoy on Afghan affairs Yue Xiaoyong (file photo) Photo:VCG

China's special envoy on Afghan affairs Yue Xiaoyong once again urged the US to unfreeze the $7 billion Washington holds of Afghanistan's overseas assets and lift its unilateral sanctions. In an interview with the Global Times on Tuesday, Yue emphasized that Washington's aid plan for Afghanistan only scratches the surface and he urged the US to stop avoiding the real challenges facing Afghanistan. 

Yue's comments came after a two-day international meeting on Afghanistan that ended on Monday in Doha, capital of Qatar. The meeting brought together member states of the United Nations and international envoys to Afghanistan to discuss an array of issues facing Afghanistan. 

 The meeting, chaired by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was attended by representatives from more than 20 countries and international organizations including China, Russia and the US. The Taliban, the de facto authority in Afghanistan, did not attend.

 According to the UN chief, the conditions set by the Taliban authorities to attend the meeting were "not acceptable."

 Yue, who attended the meeting, told the Global Times on Tuesday that it is a pity that dialogue with the Taliban authorities has not been realized so far this year. But there are positives from the meeting, as the conference gathered representatives from those countries to talk about how to address Afghanistan issues.

 Topics of global concern were also on the agenda, such as fighting terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a hotbed for terrorism, Yue said. China has always prioritized eliminating the threat of terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan, as it is crucial for China's border security. Therefore, we are pleased that the issue of combating terrorism has received more attention this time, the envoy noted. 

Guterres said on Monday that international representatives had reached consensus on some key issues concerning Afghanistan after the two-day Doha meeting, but obstacles remain. 

On the one hand, "Afghanistan remains with a government that is not recognized internationally and in many aspects [is] not integrated into the global institutions and global economy," he said. On the other hand, there is a common international perception of deteriorating human rights, particularly for women and girls in the country, according to Guterres.

Yue said China has pointed out that Afghanistan needs to respond to international society's calls for moderate governance and protecting women's rights, along with other issues. "But I believe the first step should be to conduct dialogue," Yue noted.

Yue also repeated the call for the US to unfreeze Afghanistan's overseas assets of $7 billion and lift its unilateral sanctions. Yue said that the US-established $3.5 billion aid fund for Afghanistan has so far played little role in helping the country. 

"Hopefully the US will stop making excuses and start facing the real problems that are facing Afghanistan," Yue said, noting that unfreezing the assets can help Afghanistan's people realize sustainable peace, security, stability and the rebuilding of their homeland. 

In September 2022, the US announced that it would transfer $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets into a new Swiss-based trust fund that will be shielded from the Taliban and used to help stabilize Afghanistan's economy. The Diplomat published an article in October 2023 which reported that more than one year after the fund was created, disbursements hat yet to be made.

In contrast, China has done abundant work in helping reconstruct the war-torn country. In April 2023, China released an 11-point paper to fully elaborate its position on the Afghan issue. Moreover, China has attended all four foreign ministers' meetings among neighboring countries of Afghanistan. 

Yue said that the UN has praised mechanisms such as foreign ministers' meetings among neighboring countries of Afghanistan, and said that these diplomatic efforts have played positive roles in resolving some of the challenges facing Afghanistan.

China is ready to work with the neighboring and regional  as well as international community to help Afghanistan for its  peace, stability and reconstruction, through enhanced engagement and dialogue with mutual respect , Yue noted.