25 Dec 2020: Detention of 10 Chinese spies in Afghanistan leaves Beijing red-faced
Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) has detained the Chinese citizens on charges of espionage and being involved in terrorism.
It was on December 10 that NDS started the crackdown.
Arrests: Two Chinese nationals were arrested; arms, ammunition recovered from homes
On the aforementioned date, NDS arrested a Chinese national Li Yangyang from his residence in Kabul. He had been working in the West Asian nation since July.
Arms, ammunition, explosives, including Ketamine powder, were also recovered from his home, reports DNA.
On the same day, another Chinese national Sha Hung was also arrested. She stayed in the Shirpur area of Kabul and also stocked explosives in her home.
Meetings: The spies held meetings with the Haqqani Network
After the arrests of Yangyang and Hung, believed to be the ones driving the espionage system in Afghanistan, more spies were nabbed.
The kingpins reportedly had meetings with the top brass of the terrorist group Haqqani Network.
Pakistan's notorious spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), apparently worked as a mediator between the Chinese spies and the terror outfit.
Plan: Chinese spies working to eliminate Uighur leaders
NDS officials are of the opinion that Yangyang was collecting information about al Qaeda, Taliban, and Uighur Muslims in Kunar and Badakhshan provinces.
"Chinese spies were working on a project to target and eliminate Uighur leaders in Afghanistan through terrorists to ensure abandonment of the rebel movement against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)," a person in the know told DNA.
Connection: Pakistan has rarely helped Uighurs, whom China ill-treated
A person in New Delhi said Afghanistan will now investigate the espionage ring and ascertain if it has any links with Pakistan.
Islamabad, the all-weather ally of Beijing, has supported the latter's inhumane treatment of Uighur Muslims.
In the late 1990s, Pakistan failed to help Uighurs who settled in Northwestern tribal areas of the country after fleeing violence in China. They were either deported or assassinated.
Details: China also targeting Afghan Uighurs, has detained some
Like some of Pakistan's areas, Afghanistan is also a sought after place for refugees as it shares a small border with Xinjiang, the home of Uighurs. Despite the few opportunities in Afghanistan, some Uighurs chose to stay there.
But the Afghan Uighurs still face palpable threats from China. The Communist government has been detaining Afghan Uighurs who travel to Xinjiang to meet their relatives.
ETIM: Officials believe China wanted to target ETIM operatives
The Afghan security establishment believes that Chinese spies were working to create a fake East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) module to nab the actual ETIM operatives.
ETIM is a United Nations Security Council-designated group that works in Xinjiang. It is believed that China uses ETIM as an excuse to violate the human rights of minority Uighurs.
The United States no longer identifies ETIM as a terrorist group.
Demand: Afghanistan wants a formal apology from China
The detention of Chinese spies was naturally bound to have political repercussions. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has been apprised about the developments and he tasked First Vice President Amrullah Saleh to oversee the probe.
Saleh, the former chief of the Afghan intelligence agency, met Chinese envoy Wang Yu to inform him about the detentions.
Afghanistan would consider a pardon if Beijing apologizes formally.