(Bloomberg) -- China said the Taliban government in Afghanistan should make major changes to its style of governance in order for Beijing to officially recognize it.
“We expect Afghanistan to respond to the expectations of the international community and apply moderate policy, have friendly exchanges and engagement with regional countries and other countries in the world, and return back to the big family of the world as soon as possible,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing Tuesday in Beijing.
If those conditions were reached, “it would be natural for China to recognize the government of Afghanistan,” Wang said. “China always believes that Afghanistan should not be excluded from the international community.”
The comments mark a subtle shift in China’s stance toward the Taliban because Beijing has previously said it won’t interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs. Since ousting the US-backed government and taking power in 2021, Taliban-led Afghanistan has yet to gain full diplomatic recognition from any country largely because of its repressive policies toward women, including banning them from education and work.
A handful of nations, like China, Pakistan and Russia, have accepted Taliban diplomats in their countries even though they don’t formally recognize the government. The Taliban also took control of Afghan diplomatic missions in India late last month.
Read: Taliban Gets Diplomatic Lift as China Envoy Presents Credentials
Beijing is building closer ties with the Taliban as it seeks to gain influence in the South Asian country after the US withdrawal. In September, China became the first nation whose ambassador presented diplomatic credentials to the Taliban. A subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. also signed an agreement with the Taliban to extract oil from the northern Amu Darya basin.
Afghanistan sent Alhaj Nooruddin Azizi, the minister of industry and commerce, to the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in October. Chinese leader Xi Jinping used the event to woo emerging economies known as the Global South to his infrastructure initiative — and also make his case for challenging the US-led world order.
Azizi said his government wanted to prioritize investment from China in agriculture, mining and energy.
More: How New Taliban Crackdown Fits in Afghan Women’s Saga: QuickTake
(Updates with more context.)
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