Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a surprise stop in Afghanistan on Thursday during his tour to shore up ties with the region. Wang’s unannounced trip is China’s highest-level visit to the country since the Taliban took over in August following the retreat of the United States’ 20-year military operation. No country has formally recognised the Taliban government. Wang’s visit was announced by Ahmad Yasir, a top Taliban government official, on Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “[The] Chinese Foreign Minister arrives in Kabul for talks with Islamic Emirate leaders.” Wang was personally received by the Taliban’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, according to the official state Bakhtar News Agency on Thursday afternoon. A one-minute video posted by the agency reveals a meeting was held, with Wang and the Chinese delegation sitting on one side of a long table across from Muttaqi’s team. Both Beijing and Kabul have remained tight-lipped about Wang’s visit to Afghanistan. Nor has his expected trip to India on Thursday and Friday been confirmed by India or China, who have been engaged in an ongoing border conflict . Wang’s South Asia tour came as Beijing finds itself in a rapidly changing international environment, observing political and security restructuring in its neighbouring regions. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Beijing has closely followed diplomatic reshuffling by South Korea’s newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol and is keeping an eye on the return of full-scale military drills between the US and the Philippines next week. China has presented itself as a party eager to solve and mediate the “Afghanistan problem” and Wang repeated in his meeting with Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi this week that the Taliban government should be an inclusive one “sternly fighting against any forms of terrorism”. While humanitarian agencies have been distributing aid to Afghanistan, Beijing has committed its own aid packages to the country, including food and coronavirus vaccines, as the United Nations warns of large-scale starvation among the 38.9 million population. Beijing will host a meeting with foreign ministers representing Afghanistan’s neighbours – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan – this month to discuss humanitarian issues under Taliban rule, according to Pakistani officials. During Wang’s stop in Pakistan, which represented China’s first attendance at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers’ conference, Wang attempted to build solidarity, saying China and Islamic countries were “developing countries” that had “shared goals for development”. Afghan embassies are struggling to pay staff and bills, stay open He said China would support Islamic countries in “exploring a developing path suitable to their own needs” and would stand with the region to defend national integrity, territorial sovereignty and autonomy. Lin Minwang, assistant dean at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said the unannounced trip could mean China was “checking out” the situation in Afghanistan, but it was not likely to bestow official recognition until “higher-level officials” met. “While the Chinese government has not officially recognised the Taliban government, there have been a lot of interactions in reality. China is also one of the countries that have contributed the most in humanitarian support and has been coordinating with other neighbouring countries in the region … this is so far their official stance towards the Taliban,” Lin said. Despite diplomatic challenges in China’s neighbouring regions, Lin said China’s attempt to boost relations with Islamic countries in the region had been consistent. “Afghanistan is also part of the Islamic world, despite it not being officially recognised yet,” Lin said. The Taliban has sought international recognition and for the lifting of Western sanctions that have further pressured the impoverished country. They have made commitments on human rights since taking over but have already been challenged by the UN and media reports on broken promises relating to crackdowns on civil society and girls’ education . Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first to visit Kabul last November, and so far has been the only head of state to do so. Britain’s special envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs and envoy of the UK Mission to Afghanistan held talks with the Taliban last month. China, which shares a border with Afghanistan, was one of the first countries to receive Taliban representatives in July, despite increasing violence in the country and before the insurgent group took control of the capital Kabul.