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This article is more than 2 month old.

Explained: Why China is embracing Taliban 2.0 

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It all boils down to economics and strategic interests for China. Analysts say China has its eyes on Afghanistan's rich deposits of rare earth elements. The proximity of Xinjiang and the Belt initiative also play a role in the Chinese bear hug of the all-new Taliban.

Explained: Why China is embracing Taliban 2.0 
As the Taliban readies to form a government in Afghanistan, different countries have responded differently to the situation. China, which had refused to recognise the Taliban during their previous rule, is now willing to engage with the radical group.
The reason behind this sudden shift in foreign policy could be Afghanistan's rich natural resources that China might be eyeing, reported CNBC.
Twenty years of nation building were undone in months as the Taliban took complete control of Afghanistan on August 15. The Taliban are a military and religious movement founded in Afghanistan in response to the Soviet invasion of the country. The group has established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and will be looking to impose law and order by following their rigorous brand of Sharia law.
The ramifications of the sudden control of the country by the hardline group will be felt across the globe. Some countries have refused to recognise the government that is expected to be headed by Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the movement, unless rights and safety of the citizens are protected. But some governments have expressed their willingness to work and perhaps even cooperate with the Taliban.
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China's reason for cooperating with the group boils down to simple economics. Afghanistan holds nearly $1-3 trillion worth of rare earth elements. These materials are used in various industries like automobile manufacturing, aviation, electronics and satellite construction.
Afghanistan has rare earth elements like lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, and veins of aluminium, gold, silver, zinc, mercury, and lithium, according to Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a former diplomat at the Afghan Embassy in Washington DC.
“It should be an international initiative to make sure that if any country is agreeing to exploit its minerals on behalf of the Taliban, to only do it under strict humanitarian conditions where human rights, and rights for women are preserved in the situation,” Shamaila Khan, Director of Emerging Market Debt at AllianceBernstein told CNBC.
"So there should be pressure on China if they are going to do alliances with the Taliban in order to generate economic aid for them -- that they do it on international terms," Khan added.
The country was one of the first to offer international legitimacy to the group, which many countries have designated as a terrorist organisation. The Taliban of course has not been included in United States' terror list.
“On the basis of fully respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of all factions in the country, China has maintained contact and communication with the Afghan Taliban and played a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Afghan issue,” said China spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a press conference on August 16.
“We are ready to continue to develop good neighbourliness and friendly cooperation with Afghanistan and play a constructive role in its peace and reconstruction,” Hua added.
"America's strength and role is destruction, not construction," Hua said at a regular press briefing.
China is already the leading producer of many rare earth elements and has a stranglehold on the market. Thirty five percent of global reserves of rare earth elements are located in China and the country accounted for 120,000 metric tonnes or 70 percent of rare earths elements in 2018.
China uses its economic resources as a diplomatic leverage as well, having threatened to cut off rare earth elements supply to the US during their bristling trade war in 2019.
A stable Afghanistan is also important to China due its proximity to Xinjiang province. Global bodies have openly accused China of ethnic cleansing of Uighurs, an Islamic ethnic group, in Xinjiang. Afghanistan is also close to China's Road and Belt initiative.
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