China delivers US$37 million in aid to Afghanistan, fulfilling promise to Taliban

Beijing has donated 250 million yuan (US$37.4 million) of aid to Afghanistan, fulfilling a promise it made to the new Taliban government last year, according to the Chinese embassy in Kabul.

Chinese ambassador Wang Yu made the announcement on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by Ghulam Ghaws Naseri, acting minister of state for disaster management and humanitarian affairs for Taliban-led Afghanistan.

China has yet to formally recognise the Taliban, which seized power last year after the United States and its allies abruptly withdrew troops following 20 years of war, but is keen on partnering with the regime in trade and investment.

After the Taliban announced a new government last September, Beijing pledged to help Afghanistan – which shares a remote border with China – rebuild its economy and society and fight terrorist groups and the illegal drug trade.

Wang said that after the change in government, China had announced it would provide 200 million yuan in emergency humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and supplies had been entirely handed over to the country since the first delivery in September. China pledged another 50 million yuan in emergency humanitarian aid to the country after a strong earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan last month, killing more than 1,000 people, injuring nearly 2,000 and leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.

Chinese Y-20 military transport planes were deployed to deliver 105 tonnes of goods to the Afghan capital Kabul.

Wang said China’s assistance to Afghanistan was the “best manifestation” of a friendship between the two countries that dates back to ancient times.

Wang said China wished Afghanistan would soon achieve stability and social development and was keen to carry out friendly exchanges and cooperation in various fields.

Naseri said the food and humanitarian supplies had been distributed to 34 provinces after arriving in Kabul, bringing timely and effective help to the people of Afghanistan.

China had been critical of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and called on the country to lift unilateral sanctions and unfreeze Afghan assets. Western countries have frozen more than US$9 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank – most of it held in the US – since the Taliban took power. Although some aid has been restored, the country has plunged into a severe economic crisis.

In the wake of the worst earthquake in more than 20 years, the Afghan Taliban government called on the international community to lift sanctions and lift the freeze on central bank assets.