China appoints special envoy for Afghanistan

BEIJING Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:11am EDT

Members of honour guards hold red flags during a welcoming ceremony for Denmark's Queen Margrethe II outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Members of honour guards hold red flags during a welcoming ceremony for Denmark's Queen Margrethe II outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing April 24, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had appointed a special envoy for Afghanistan, underscoring Beijing's concerns that the withdrawal of NATO troops will leave a hotbed of militancy on its doorstep.

Sun Yuxi, a former ambassador to both Afghanistan and India, has been named to the new position and will have "close communication" with Afghanistan and other relevant parties, the ministry said in a statement.

"China and Afghanistan are traditional friendly neighbors. China pays great attention to developments in Afghanistan and is committed to deepening both countries' strategic partnership, and so decided to appoint a special envoy," it added.

The envoy's appointment will also help "ensure lasting peace, stability and development for Afghanistan and the region", the ministry said, without providing further details.

China and Afghanistan are connected by a narrow mountainous corridor that is almost impassable and Beijing has traditionally focused on mining and mineral deals in Afghanistan as Western forces battled Taliban insurgents. But officials say that China is emerging as a key strategic player.

One of China's chief worries is that Uighur militants who want a separate state in western China's Xinjiang region will step up their fight by exploiting the security vacuum left after the bulk of NATO forces withdraw by the end of the year.

Hundreds of Uighur fighters are believed to be holed up in rugged, lawless tribal areas straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan.

China has appointed special envoys for troubled regions before, to mixed results.

Its special envoys for Africa and Myanmar have played key roles in regional conflicts, but envoys for the Middle East, where China has less influence, have achieved little.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Comments (1)
carlmartel wrote:
China, Russia, and 4 central Asian lands form the SCO, a military, political, and economic alliance that agreed to watch Afghanistan in 2011 after the US and NATO departure that was scheduled for the end of 2014 until Obama chose to extend the war until the end of 2016. China also purchased mineral rights with the standard provision of infrastructure improvements to make Afghanistan more prosperous for future trade and to reduce causes for internal disorder that may spill over into China.

Jul 18, 2014 1:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse