China on Thursday expressed concern over America's decision to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September, saying Washington should accommodate legitimate security concerns of the regional countries to prevent "terrorist forces” from taking advantage of the chaos in the war-torn country.
Beijing also slammed Washington for linking the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan to focus more on the threats posed by China, saying fight against terrorism is in the common interest of all parties including the two countries.
"The current security situation in Afghanistan is still complex and grim and the problem of terrorism is far from being solved. Foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan should withdraw in a responsible and orderly manner to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan and to avoid terrorist forces from taking advantage of chaos," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here while responding to questions on U.S. troops pullout plan.
"The U.S. is the biggest external factor affecting the issue of Afghanistan... It must take full responsibility for preserving the outcomes of Afghanistan’s peaceful construction and reconstruction and accommodate legitimate security concerns of the countries in the region," he said.
To a question that the U.S. is linking its troops withdrawal to focus on China, Mr. Zhao said, "the U.S. side links its withdrawal from Afghanistan to China’s challenge.
"This reflects deep rooted zero-sum mind-set from the Cold War which is detrimental to mutual trust between the two countries and it is not conducive to cooperation and coordination on international and regional issues."
"We have to emphasise that the political solution to Afghanistan and early realisation of peace and stability in the country and fight against terrorism are in the common interest of all parties concerned including China and the U.S. and are also common aspiration of the international community," he said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said that the U.S. "will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1 and plan to have all U.S. troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11." Later U.S. President Joe Biden said, "It is time to end America's longest war. It is time for American troops to come home."
Mr. Zhao also said China will attend the UN conference on Afghanistan scheduled to be held in Istanbul from Aril 20 to May 4 to find a peaceful solution to Afghanistan’s civil strife.
Consequences for China
Observers say that the U.S.' latest plan to speed up the withdrawal of more troops from Afghanistan may have troubling consequences for China.
China, whose volatile Xinjiang province shares border with the Afghanistan, has been expressing concern over the U.S. troops’ withdrawal despite its current round of tensions with Washington on a host of issues, including the U.S. allegation of genocide by China against Muslim Uygurs in Xinjiang.
China has been refuting allegations of mass detention camps and other human rights violations against Uygurs.
The previous Trump administration had lifted the ban on the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uygur militant outfit.
The ETIM was designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN’s 1267 counter-terrorism committee in 2002 for its alleged association with Al-Qaida, the then al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
Despite its all-weather ties with Pakistan, which holds a strong control over the Taliban as it operates from the Pakistani territory, China’s concerns stem from the reports of regrouping of hundreds of Uygur militants who worked with Islamic State in Syria in Afghanistan to stage attacks in Xinjiang.