Pakistani senator Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, told CNN the Taliban was more “chastened and pragmatic” than during its previous time in power, and the Islamists saw China as a “credible stakeholder” in Afghanistan. “(If they took power) they would need Chinese support for Afghanistan’s stability and reconstruction. Annoying China is a recipe for disaster for the Taliban,” he said.
Any deterioration in Afghanistan’s security situation would be of significant concern to Beijing too, which has invested heavily in Central Asia through its Belt and Road trade and infrastructure scheme. In recent years, Islamist militants have attacked Chinese nationals and their interests in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan. The prospect of further violence is likely to create unease in Beijing, as will the specter of homegrown Chinese militants finding sanctuary in Afghanistan’s lawless border areas.
However, in a widely-shared social media post, Hu Xijin, the editor of state-run nationalist tabloid Global Times, said the Taliban considered China a “friend.” His newspaper, meanwhile, suggested Western media outlets were trying to ruin the Taliban’s relationship with Beijing by raising questions over Xinjiang.
— Additional reporting by Sophia Saifi
- Taliban fighters executed 22 Afghan commandos as they tried to surrender on June 16, according to videos obtained and verified by CNN and witnesses’ accounts. The killing stands in stark contrast to the Taliban’s efforts to show it is accepting the surrender of soldiers as it makes territorial gains.
- A top Thai virologist on Tuesday endorsed a government plan to mix doses of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac coronavirus vaccines, amid some public unease over the largely untested strategy.
- In an unusual step to prevent the spread of Covid, South Korea’s capital has banned fast workout music with a tempo higher than 120 beats per minute in gyms.
- At least 65 people were killed by lightning strikes and thunderstorms in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.
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Global demand for Chinese-made goods is soaring ahead of big GDP announcement
Exports reached $281 billion last month in US dollar terms, up 32% from a year ago, according to Chinese customs data released Tuesday. That’s the fastest rate of growth since February, and far higher than the 23% growth forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The spike remains high even when compared to June 2019, before Covid-19 broke out: It’s a 32% leap over that time period as well.
The big boost to exports is good news for China, coming just before it releases GDP figures for the April-to-June quarter on Thursday.
Late last week, the People’s Bank of China sparked even more concern about flagging growth when it said it would cut the reserve requirement ratio for most financial institutions by 50 basis points, a move that would allow banks to lend more. It was the first cut to that rate since April 2020.
“The trade picture looks less worrying,” wrote Ken Cheung, chief Asian foreign exchange strategist at Mizuho Bank, in a Tuesday research note, adding that the firm export figures should “help contain fears” of any disappointment in the GDP data.
— By Laura He