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Why Taliban’s approach to women’s rights matters to Beijing

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 3rd September, 2021 12:50:21 PM
  • Print news

 

Beijing’s strategy in handling the became clearer in a call between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his US counterparts on Sunday.

Wang told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the international community, especially the United States, should communicate with and “guide” as the latter .

He also urged international aid for Afghanistan, in the hope of preventing the country’s economy from collapsing.

China is trying to use its influence and rally other countries to do the same, given that the Taliban urgently needs resources and international recognition to pull together policies and a structure with which to govern.

Beijing is hoping that the militant group may become less radical, thus reducing risks of instability and refugees at its border. More specifically, it has urged the Taliban to genuinely cut ties with terrorist groups, particularly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist group that Beijing blamed for violent attacks in Xinjiang years ago.

International aid and business opportunities, Beijing believes, can help to influence the Taliban. In China’s eyes, a sanctioned and isolated Afghanistan would only increase the instability at its doorstep.

Beijing’s biggest concern is to make sure there will not be an infiltration of Uygur separatists from Afghanistan. A stable and friendly Afghanistan, therefore, best serves Beijing’s interests.

On the surface, are not related to Beijing’s strategic concerns. However, China should not underestimate the importance of the matter, because how women are treated in Afghanistan will be an important gauge of whether the Taliban can become a more pragmatic and less radical regime, as Beijing hopes.

The Taliban has made public assurances that women and girls will be permitted to go to work and school, and will not be discriminated against, but has said that should happen within the framework of Islamic law. Afghan women face an agonising wait to see how Islamic law is applied by the Taliban. Its interpretation will help to indicate whether the Taliban has changed since it ruled by terror in the 1990s.

Locking women in their homes would also be disastrous for a nation that desperately needs to rebuild its economy. China understands this well: Mao Zedong famously said that “women hold up half the sky”, meaning that they are vital economic contributors.

Beijing should use its influence to push the new Afghan government to protect women’s rights – for Afghanistan’s interests, and its own.

Source: South China Morning Post