Communist China Latches Onto Afghan Earthquake To Score Propaganda Points Against America
Roughly $7 billion in Afghan funds sit frozen at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York following a court judgment in favor of the victims of 9/11. The Biden administration wants to give half of it to the Taliban in the form of humanitarian relief.
Even as bodies are still being pulled from the rubble, Communist China is using a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan’s southeast as a tool in its war of words over the fate of some $7 billion in Afghan funds frozen at the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Roughly $7 billion in Afghan funds on deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York were frozen by the Biden administration shortly before the Taliban regime took power in Kabul in August 2021.
The editor of China Daily for the European Union, Chen Weihau, in recent days has demanded that American release the funds. “Just give back the $7 billion Afghan assets frozen by the U.S,” he said.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman, Mr. Zao, added that “America has brazenly frozen their seven billion U.S. dollars of life-saving money without asking the Afghan people, making things even worse for them.”
The administration has proposed giving half of the funds to 9/11 victims’ families — who won a legal judgment against the Taliban in federal court — and allocating the remainder for Afghan humanitarian relief.
The status of the money awaits resolution, dependent on another case pending in federal court.
Human Rights Watch’s Asia Advocacy Director, John Sifton, has been critical of the plan to return the money to the Taliban, noting that, “the move would do little to address underlying factors driving Afghanistan’s massive humanitarian crisis.”
To contrast itself with America, Beijing is highlighting Chinese support for the impoverished Central Asian country and contrasting images of an American jet leaving in 2021 with a Chinese plane arriving with aid.
The campaign by the Chinese foreign ministry is currently trending on Chinese social media platforms.
The earthquake, which jolted Kabul and the surrounding area in southeast Afghanistan, killed at least 1,200 and injured thousands more. The Taliban government has struggled to respond to the disaster and made multiple appeals for foreign aid, to little avail.
On Thursday, Communist China directed the American equivalent of a C-130, the Xi’an Y-20, to deliver $7.5 million worth of humanitarian aid for earthquake victims.
“Two military planes showed up at Kabul airport, one taking life and the other carrying hope. This is perhaps the biggest difference between China and the US,” said the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Lijan Zhao on Twitter and at a press conference last week.
The messaging reflects Beijing’s efforts to tarnish America’s reputation and burnish its own, even in tragedy’s wake.
The image disseminated by the Chinese shows an American C-130 taking off from Kabul airport with Afghans struggling to get onto the plane, while the Chinese jet lands with humanitarian assistance. Several Afghan died trying to hitch rides on American jets flying out of Kabul just before the Taliban regained control of the country in 2021.
“America is the initiator of the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan and is directly responsible for the years of war and poverty suffered by the Afghan people,” said Mr. Zhao.
The Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi added that “After the earthquake hit, China has acted at top speed to help Afghanistan to the best of its capacity.”
Despite Mr. Zhao’s sharp words, America has offered more substantial support to Afghanistan since the August 2021 withdrawal.
The State Department announced that America pledged $55 million in humanitarian relief for the earthquake. Secretary of State Blinken, noted that “The earthquake in Afghanistan is a great tragedy, adding to an already dire humanitarian situation.”
In total, America has donated over $774 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since the withdrawal.