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China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday that the US should not exacerbate the suffering of the Afghan people and unfreeze their assets, adding that Washington should lift unilateral sanctions on the country as soon as possible.

“Without the consent of the Afghan people, the US willfully disposes of assets that belong to the Afghan people, even keeping them as its own,” said the spokesperson in response to a question during his regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.

“This is no different from the conduct of bandits. This latest example has once again laid bare that the ‘rules-based order’ the US claims to champion is not the kind of rules and order to defend the weak and uphold justice, but to maintain its own hegemony.  

“As the culprit of the Afghan crisis, the US should not exacerbate the suffering of the Afghan people. It should unfreeze their assets, lift unilateral sanctions on Afghanistan as soon as possible, and assume its due responsibility to ease the humanitarian crisis in the country.”

The statement comes after US President Joe Biden seized $7 billion in assets belonging to the previous Afghan government, aiming to split the funds between victims of the 9/11 attacks and desperately-needed aid for the post-war country.

Pakistan’s reaction

Reacting to the development, Pakistan had earlier also called for the complete release of frozen Afghan central bank assets, saying that utilisation of these funds should be the “sovereign decision of Afghanistan.”

After Biden’s move, Pakistan calls for complete release of Afghan central bank assets

In a statement on Saturday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said that the country’s principled position on the frozen Afghan foreign bank reserves remains that these are owned by the Afghan nation and should be released.

“The utilisation of Afghan funds should be the sovereign decision of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement.

“Pakistan has seen the US decision to unfreeze the Afghan assets held by the US banks to release $3.5 billion for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and $3.5 billion for compensation to families of 9/11 victims,” said Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar.

“Over the past several months, Pakistan has been consistently emphasising the need for the international community to quickly act to address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and to help revive the Afghan economy, as the two are inextricably linked.

“Finding ways to unfreeze the Afghan foreign reserves urgently would help address the humanitarian and economic needs of the Afghan people.”

Taliban fumed

Meanwhile, the Afghanistan’s caretaker government has also objected to actions of using half of the frozen assets of the Afghan Central Bank to compensate victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“The September 11 attacks had nothing to do with Afghans,” the Taliban said in a statement, adding that any attempt to seize the property of the Afghan people under the pretext of the incident is a clear violation of the Doha peace agreement with Afghanistan.

US plans to free half of $7bn frozen Afghan funds for aid, remainder to stay in US

PM Imran’s visit

Meanwhile, spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry added that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China and attendance at the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022 carries on the fine tradition of mutual support between the two countries.

“President Xi Jinping met with the Pakistani Prime Minister, and Premier Li Keqiang had talks with him,” said Wang Wenbin.

“Leaders of the two countries reached important consensus on such areas as the development of CPEC, more cooperation in science and technology, agriculture and livelihood, building a corridor for green development, health and digital economy, encouraging Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan, leveraging the protocol to the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, and increasing the import of agricultural products from Pakistan.”

He added that China is ready to work with Pakistan in implementing the important consensus, further deepen strategic mutual trust, expand bilateral practical cooperation and inject new impetus to the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.

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