China denounces 'awful mess' left by US in Afghanistan

US soldiers at Kabul's airport on Aug 16, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Tuesday (Aug 17) accused Washington of "leaving an awful mess" in Afghanistan after the Taleban seized control of the country and prompted a chaotic evacuation of US personnel and allies.

Beijing has signalled its readiness to cooperate with the Taleban after the United States' withdrawal, which spurred a rapid advance by the Islamist hardliners across the country that saw them capture the capital Kabul on Sunday.

Faced with criticism over the disorganised pullout of American troops after 20 years of US-led military intervention, President Joe Biden on Monday defended the withdrawal and blamed Afghan forces whom he said were "not willing to fight for themselves".

But Chinese Foreign Ministry official Hua Chunying on Tuesday said Washington had left "an awful mess of unrest, division and broken families" in Afghanistan.

"America's strength and role is destruction, not construction," Ms Hua said at a regular press briefing.

China shares a rugged 76km border with Afghanistan.

Beijing has long feared that the neighbour could become a staging point for minority Uighur separatists in the sensitive border region of Xinjiang.

But a top-level Taleban delegation met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin last month, promising that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militants.

In exchange, China offered economic support and investment for Afghanistan's reconstruction.

Ms Hua on Monday said China was ready to continue "friendly and cooperative" relations with Taleban-controlled Afghanistan.

She urged the new Afghan regime on Tuesday to "make a clean break with international forces" and "prevent Afghanistan from becoming a gathering place for terrorists and extremists again".

Mr Biden promised a complete withdrawal of US troops by Sept 11, marking an end to two decades of war.

But Washington was left shocked by the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the Taleban's sweeping advance.

China has repeatedly criticised what it sees as the US' hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan as a failure of leadership.

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