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Amid Growing Ties With Taliban, China Mulls Investing in Afghan Oil, Gas

© AFP 2023 STRThis photo taken on May 10, 2011 shows a worker walking by at an oil refinery of China's Sinopec, in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province
This photo taken on May 10, 2011 shows a worker walking by at an oil refinery of China's Sinopec, in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.05.2023
Ever since the Taliban* came back to power in Kabul in August 2021, its ties with China have witnessed an uptick.
In what is being viewed as the Taliban's growing relations with China, the Asian giant is preparing to invest in the oil and gas sectors of Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) in Kabul was quoted as saying by local media on Monday.
The Chinese desire to invest in Afghanistan's gas and oil fields was unveiled in a meeting of several Chinese investors and the Taliban Minister of Mines and Petroleum Shahabuddin Delawar which took place on Sunday.
The official named Homyaoon Afghan added that state authorities in the war-torn nation have already set up basic facilities for foreign investors, and invited the Chinese companies to participate in the bidding process for Afghanistan's oil and gas fields that would be announced shortly.
A Taliban fighter walks near a torn down banner of late Afghan Mujahideen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud (R) and a poster of former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani (L), who fled the country during the recent Taliban military takeover of Aghanistan, at the airport in Kabul on August 31, 2021 - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.05.2023
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"Afghanistan has rich oil and gas resources, and the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum will shortly announce a part of the country's oil and gas fields for bidding."
Welcoming the development, Sakhi Ahmad Payman, deputy head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Industry and Mines (ACIM) noted that this could be a good deal for both Afghanistan and China.
"This is a good opportunity for Chinese companies and also for Afghanistan... This is a good opportunity both for Afghanistan and China," he said.
As per the ministry's statement, in the first three years, the company that would eventually sign the contract after emerging victorious in the bidding process would invest around $540 million in the sector.
However, this isn't the first time when the Taliban and China have signed an agreement to extract oil from the South Asian nation.
In January this year, the Islamic Emirate as the Taliban officially calls itself, and a Chinese firm put pen to paper on a deal to take out oil from the Amu Darya river basin located on the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Besides, the Taliban's Ministry of Industry and Commerce previously disclosed that China has already made investments to the tune of $2 billion since the fall of the democratically-elected government in Kabul in 2021.
* under UN sanctions for terrorism