Dynamics of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Meeting

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Afghanistan, which has been the scene of a conflict period of half a century, continues to affect regional and world politics from various aspects. Its geopolitical position, various underground riches, its direct impact on Asian and even Eurasian security, the uncertainty of its political future, the ongoing problems and the existence of various terrorist organizations cause Afghanistan to be among the most discussed issues.

As it will be remembered, it was claimed that the country would turn into a center of chaos and crisis during the withdrawal of the United States of America (USA). On the other hand, although its internal and external legitimacy is debatable today, it is clear that significant progress has been made in terms of security. However, the continuation of economic and political problems in the country causes uncertainties and threats to continue.

In such an environment, it is obvious that various historical and security problems increase the tension in the region. For example, the Durand Line Issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan is damaging the relations between the Taliban and Pakistan. One of the factors that caused the tension between the parties, which had strong relations for a period, to rise is the attacks carried out by the terrorist organization Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan. In return, the Taliban administration tried to create a balance by getting closer to India in response to the strained relations with Pakistan.

These developments, rather than solving regional problems; This leads to an increase in geopolitical fragility and an increase in the possibility of conflict. However, it is of great importance that the problems be resolved by consensus among the states of the region. At this point, it is seen that China is trying to be an effective actor. Because China encouraged the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia and tried to strengthen the diplomatic relations established between the parties. It is clear that Beijing has succeeded in this.

It can be said that China is trying to build a similar policy in the relations between the Taliban and Pakistan. The last indicator of this is the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers Dialogue meeting held on May 6, 2023. The United Nations (UN) granted an exemption to the Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki, who was exposed to travel restrictions, to attend the meeting.

The aim of the meeting held in Islamabad was to improve regional security, trade, logistics and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.[1] Also, the meeting is the fifth strategic dialogue mechanism launched in 2017 and the first to be held after being frozen for two years in the face of the Taliban takeover of Kabul.[2]

One of the main topics of the meeting was the growing sources of threats in Afghanistan. Because the attacks on Chinese investments and Pakistan in Afghanistan cause the perception that terrorist organizations are using this country as a shelter. However, Muttaki denies the aforementioned allegations and states that no terrorist organization is allowed in Afghanistan.[3]

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang called on the Taliban and Pakistani delegation to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, protect Beijing’s interests, oppose the “double standard” against terrorist attacks of the three countries, and increase cooperation in security.[4] In this context, the parties; agreed to maintain good neighborliness, deepen mutual trust, respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, address conflicts and differences through consultation, non-interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, reject illegal unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan, and oppose actions that undermine regional stability.[5]

As can be understood, Pakistan and China will support the Taliban to increase their capacity in the fight against terrorism. This situation is an indication that China and Pakistan are in search of security guarantees. A secure environment will also bring Afghanistan to be connected to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This issue was also discussed at the meeting. Expanding CPEC to include Afghanistan would also establish a tripartite economic cooperation. While the parties consider tripartite cooperation as an important factor within the scope of mutual benefit and win-win understanding; It can be said that the Western-centered sanctions imposed on Afghanistan also provide an advantage to China. Because China, which drills oil in Afghanistan, will also be able to access underground riches such as copper and lithium.[6]

It is obvious that China, which is trying to strengthen regional stability, will gain significant gains from this rapprochement. At the beginning of these gains is the provision of security. It is known that the attacks on Belt and Road Initiative investments and Chinese nationals caused a significant disturbance in the region. While the USA uses the argument of fighting terrorism in the process of intervention in Afghanistan; It can be argued that China is trying to solve the problems and create influence in the region by saying regional security and stability. Second, China plans to expand CPEC, an important pillar of the Belt and Road Initiative, to include Afghanistan.

Security must be ensured for the said development and the investments to be made. Therefore, it can be said that security in Afghanistan directly affects investments. Therefore, China uses security and investment as an important tool of influence in the rapprochement between the Taliban and Pakistan. However, it can be stated that with the said meeting, it is desired to develop a form of relationship that suits the interests of all parties.

As a result, China, with its Afghanistan and Pakistan dimensions, is turning into the main investor country in the region, the main actor promoting security and a supporter of peace between regional governments. In addition, China uses security and economic tools to influence the Taliban; it is also trying to limit India’s growing influence. The Taliban, on the other hand, gains the support of an actor like Beijing against Western-based sanctions. Pakistan, on the other hand, gives the message that it is trying to be a safe country for investments within the scope of CPEC; It also wants to receive support against regional threats and wants to turn this into an advantage in its fight against the terrorist organization TTP.

[1] Ayaz Gul, “China Asks Afghanistan’s Taliban to Address Terrorism Worries”, VoA,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

[2] Frank Tang, “China Calls on Pakistan, Afghanistan to Help Fight Terror, Protect Chinese Interests in First 3-Way Talks Since 2021”, SCMP,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

[3] Gul, “China Asks Afghanistan’s…”, op.cit.

[4] Tang, “China Calls on Pakistan…”, op.cit.

[5] “Qin Gang Attends the Fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

[6] Benjamin Parkin vd, “China Holds Security and Trade Talks with Taliban”, Financial Times,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023); “China, Pakistan and Afghanistan FMs Hold Talks in Islamabad”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.