Reports in some US newspapers of connections between China and the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan are false, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said Saturday.
The spokesman was responding to the requests by the media to clarify reports in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal which claimed China has very close ties with the Taliban.
The reports said China sends its diplomats to Kabul, Afghanistan, on regular basis, and offered the Taliban consultation service on matters such as dam construction.
The reports also said at least one Chinese company is assisting the Taliban to build a telephone network, and China has signed a memorandum with the Taliban on providing economic and technical assistance.
Zhu Bangzao said the reports were "at serious variance with the facts."
For safety considerations, China shut down its embassy to Afghanistan in February 1993, after the civil war of Afghanistan broke out. China has never sent resident personnel there since then, Zhu said, describing the report of the regular dispatch of diplomats as "groundless."
He also described the reports on China's involvement in the construction of dam and telephone network, as well as the memorandum signed with the Taliban as "absurd."
The spokesman stressed that China, a neighbor of Afghanistan, has been always concerned with development of situations in Afghanistan, and China hopes that the issue of Afghanistan would be solved peacefully and as soon as possible.
"China has no selfish interests on the Afghan issue. What China has done is mainly to persuade different factions in Afghanistan to make peace, and we will never interfere in its internal affairs, " he said.
China has not established any kind of formal relations with the Taliban, he said, and he confirmed that the embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan (of the anti-Taliban alliance) to China has maintained normal operation in Beijing.
Zhu reiterated that China supports not only the United Nations' leading role in peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, but also all endeavors towards that direction.
(Xinhua News Agency 09/15/2001)