China leader in Afghanistan for first time in 46 years

Saibal Dasgupta
TNN | Sep 26, 2012, 01.34AM IST

BEIJING: With all its diplomatic and strategic proximity with Pakistan, China hadn't sent any leader of consequence to neighbouring Afghanistan in the last 46 years until the top Chinese security official, Zhou Yongkang, landed in Kabul on Saturday. The visit signaled Beijing's diminishing confidence in Pakistan's ability to check terrorists from crossing the border to the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The last visit by a Chinese leader to Afghanistan was in 1966 when then president Liu Shaoqi stopped over at Kabul. Beijing has so far relied on Pakistan's perception on extremists and even refused to censure terrorists involved in attacks in India. China's direct interaction with Kabul is bound to cut Islamabad's influence, sources said.

"We will continue to provide assistance to Afghanistan with no attached conditions and hope Afghan people can regain peace," Zhou said after meeting Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai.