Considering the Taliban’s historical connections with Xinjiang’s Uyghur militant groups affiliated with al Qaeda, this advance would have caused alarm to Beijing in the past. These days, however, the Taliban go out of their way to assuage China’s concerns, eager to secure Beijing’s acquiescence to their rule.
“The Taliban want to show China good will,” said Qian Feng, head of research at the National Strategy Institute of Tsinghua University in Beijing. “They hope that China can play a more important role, especially after America pulls out its troops.”
With the American military withdrawal nearly complete, China’s clout in the region is growing, in part through Beijing’s strategic relationship with the Taliban’s main backer, Pakistan. China is also becoming increasingly influential in the Central Asian states that border Afghanistan to the north. Aware of Beijing’s sensibilities, all these countries have long steered clear of condemning the mass incarceration of fellow Muslims in Xinjiang and other human-rights abuses there.