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China gets tough with Taliban–demands curbs on Uyghur radicals nesting in Afghanistan

During his meeting Taliban's acting Deputy Prime Minister, Mullah Baradar in Doha, China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, personally read out the riot order (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@CCTVAsiaPacific)

China’s patience with the Taliban appears to be running out with Afghanistan once again showing signs of becoming a global terror hub, where the separatist Uyghur Islamist groups appear to be taking root ,

China’s zero-tolerance to the revival of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement ( ETIM), with deep nodes among ethnic Uyghurs in China’s ultra-strategic Xinjiang region, is apparent as foreign minister Wang Yi personally read out the riot order to Taliban’s acting deputy prime minister Mullah Baradar in Doha on Monday.

Wang told Baradar that China is not happy with his government because they have not started fulfilling the promises that the group has made.

Wang emphasized that the ETIM “is an international terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council, (which) not only poses a real threat to China's national security and territorial integrity, but also jeopardizes the domestic stability and long-term stability in Afghanistan,” reports Xinhua, the China state run  news agency.

Wang told Baradar that so far there was no indication that the Taliban government has broken its relations with militant outfits like ETIM and ISIS-K. He referred to the claims made by the  ISIS-K that it has Uyghur Fighters and suicide bombers in its ranks.

Beijing blames the ETIM of trying to separate the Uygur Muslim majority province of Xinjiang- which borders Afghanistan from China. But the Taliban has been facing exasperatingly complex challenges in managing police functions, safeguarding Afghanistan’s borders, protecting citizens and fighting the ISIS-K due to lacking in basic professional skills needed to fulfil its promises regarding counter-terrorism operations.

This was the first meeting of Wang and Baradar after the Taliban captured the country. The last meeting was in July in the Chinese city of Tianjin, shortly before the group seized power from Afghanistan's elected government. That was the time when Wang asked the Baradar led Taliban delegation to make a clean break with the ETIM and other terrorist outfits. But that was the time when Baradar was being tipped to head the Taliban government.

Now the Taliban is controlled by the Pakistan supported hardliners led by the members of the infamous  Haqqani network. The moderate faces of Taliban like Baradar have been completely side-lined in the Taliban government.

China has not recognized the Taliban government yet but has kept its embassy open as it seeks to expand its economic and political footprint in the war-torn country with which it shares a 76-kilometer border. China’s Intelligence Chief Chen Wenqing met the Interior Minister and supremo of militant organisation Sirajuddin Haqqani and conveyed China’s frustration because his group has not broken its ties with ETIM as promised. The Chinese spy chief also asked Sirajuddin Haqqani for extradition of prominent members of militant outfit ETIM.

Also Read: China’s intelligence chief mounts pressure on Sirajuddin Haqqani to extradite Uyghur militants from Afghanistan

On his part, Baradar briefed Wang on the current situation in Afghanistan, which he claimed is under control and improving. But China, quite visibly,  is not convinced. Interestingly, the foreign minister of Taliban regime Amir Khan Muttaqi is also present in Doha. Earlier the Taliban had announced that Muttaqi will be meeting his Chinese counterpart.  But, significantly, Wang’s first meeting took place with Baradar. Muttaqi will be meeting the Chinese foreign minister and state councillor  on Tuesday.