China Resumes Commercial Flights to Afghanistan Amid Growing Ties with Taliban Regime

According to officials, China has reopened direct commercial flights with Afghanistan, signalling a strengthening of diplomatic relations between Kabul and Beijing. The Taliban regime has announced the resumption of a direct flight from Kabul airport to Urumqi in China every Wednesday, in collaboration with the country’s flagship carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines. This marks the first time China has reinstated direct flights to the Taliban-ruled country since the end of 2019.

The move comes as Afghanistan aims to revive its aviation sector, which has been significantly affected in recent years. Following the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani regime in 2021, the country’s international airports were left in a damaged and barely functional state. However, the Taliban has restored operations at four international airports: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Currently, daily flights from Afghanistan mainly connect to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Turkey, with no direct routes to the US or Europe. The resumption of direct international flights is expected to boost Afghanistan’s economy and enhance political and commercial ties between Afghanistan and China. Ghulam Jailani Wafa, the Taliban’s deputy minister of transport and civil aviation, emphasized the positive impact on trade and the public during a ceremony announcing the resumption of operations.

The renewed flights will provide various benefits for Afghanistan, including economic growth and improved trade relations with China. Direct flights will enable businessmen to travel more efficiently, eliminating the need for connecting flights. The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation is open to allowing other airlines to resume direct flights to China and other countries as passenger demand increases.

Chinese officials have also expressed their support for the economic and trade collaboration between China and Afghanistan, noting that the resumption of flights will facilitate these efforts. China has been actively involved in financial investments and projects to assist the Taliban regime in rebuilding Afghanistan’s economy. Recent investment contracts worth approximately $2 billion have been signed, covering areas such as mining extraction, airport services, and industrial parks.

China and Pakistan have further supported calls to address humanitarian funding gaps for Afghanistan, emphasizing that aid should not be influenced by political considerations. However, concerns have been raised regarding a potential decrease in assistance due to restrictions on female aid workers imposed by the Taliban administration, as well as global crises demanding donor countries’ attention.

The joint statement by the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan, and the Taliban stressed the importance of maintaining humanitarian support for the Afghan people, separate from political considerations. As China and Afghanistan continue to forge closer ties, both countries are actively working towards fostering economic cooperation and stability in the region.

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