A new Chinese ambassador presented his credentials to the Taliban prime minister in Kabul on Wednesday, Reuters has reported. Afghan officials added that this is the first appointment of a new foreign envoy at ambassadorial level since the Taliban took over the government in 2021.
The Taliban has not been recognised officially by any foreign government. It was not immediately clear if Wednesday’s appointment signalled any steps that Beijing is heading towards formal recognition of the movement. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
“Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, accepted the credentials of Mr Zhao Xing, the new Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan,” said the Taliban administration’s deputy spokesman, Bilal Karimi.
China’s previous ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu, took up the role in 2019 and finished his tenure last month.
Other nations and international delegations, such as Pakistan and the European Union, have sent senior diplomats to lead diplomatic missions in Kabul, but they have been at a Charge d’Affaires level, usually meaning that they are responsible for ambassadorial duties but do not formally hold the title of ambassador. Some ambassadors appointed during the previous foreign-backed Afghan government have stayed in Kabul with the same title.
The Taliban entered the capital on 15 August 2021, as the Afghan security forces, set up with years of Western support, disintegrated and US-backed President Ashraf Ghani fled.