Since the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, the Chinese government has significantly increased its activities in Kabul, Afghanistan. Public access to the Chinese Embassy is blocked off, with Taliban fighters providing security. Sources tell Strike Source that Taliban leaders meet at the Chinese embassy every day.
Sources in Afghanistan also say that Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who the FBI wants for coordinating terrorist attacks against U.S. and Coalition Forces, has met several times with China’s Intelligence Chief, Chen Wenqing, in Kabul. According to information provided to Strike Source, the last time Sirajuddin and Wenqing met was Sunday, September 26, 2021. The meeting took place in Sirajuddin’s office, not the Chinese embassy.
The news comes several weeks after Pakistan’s Intelligence Chief, Faiz Hameed, was spotted at the Serena Hotel in Kabul, following the withdrawal of American forces.
Public appearances of Wenqing remain rare but it’s not completely unheard of for Afghanistan’s national security officials to meet with Wenqing. In December of 2019, the former National Security Advisor to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Hamdullah Mohib, met with Wenqing in Tehran to discuss “counter-terrorism efforts and regional cooperation.” During the meeting, both individuals agreed they need to meet more often to discuss such issues.
Further, Taliban officials have met with Chinese leaders in Afghanistan. On Sunday, September 26, 2021, the Taliban’s Acting Foreign Minister, Amir Muttaqi, met with China’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu.
Additionally, according to sources, the Chinese government is providing technological support for the Taliban’s growing intelligence operations, including eavesdropping, tracking, and detecting criminal activity.
The Taliban continues house-to-house searches in many areas of Afghanistan, killing former members of the military, police, and intelligence community. Whether China’s government is involved at any level with the extrajudicial killings remains unclear at this time. It is noteworthy that the Chinese government has not criticized the Taliban for these activities nor appear to be applying any pressure for the human rights violations to be ceased.
But China doesn’t just have concerns over Afghanistan’s security, they want a piece of the country’s natural resources. In 2008, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan agreed to a thirty-year lease on the Mes Aynak Copper Mine with China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) and Jiangxi Copper. That deal is still on the table with the Taliban in power, as Sources tell Strike Source that a Chinese and Taliban Delegation recently visited the mine, which has an estimated worth of 50 billion.
It is important to note that extraction of minerals by the Chinese in Afghanistan would be challenging. A lack of road infrastructure, no electricity in the areas where mining would take place, and a populace that would likely be opposed to foreigners working in their home areas make any deal to mine one that requires significant investment to build infrastructure and relationships with host communities.
With no U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban and China are working closely together. Additionally, blocking public access to the Chinese embassy in Kabul suggests that neither party wants to be transparent about their activities and that the Chinese mission feels vulnerable to possible attacks from groups like ISIS-K.
As China has both a vested security and economic interest in Afghanistan, there will be much further cooperation between both countries. And with no U.S. presence in the country, it won’t be difficult for China to significantly influence other industries and areas of Afghanistan.
Editor’s Note: Sources for this report have not been named and no additional context has been provided to protect their identity and safety.