An Afghan militant group confirmed Beijing will be its “principal partner” in the strongest indication yet of formal diplomatic relations on Sept. 1.

“China will be our main partner and represents a great opportunity for us, because it is ready to invest in our country and support reconstruction efforts,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said according to the Tribune.

However, the deal is expected to face significant challenges since the United States prohibited the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars in national assets. The funds are held in U.S. bank accounts, and both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have already frozen aid to the Middle Eastern country. The militant group will struggle to find enough money to keep running the country.

Faced with dwindling cash reserves, the Taliban is betting on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which seems willing to strengthen ties. The CCP had not formally recognized the Taliban administration at the time of publication.

Mujahid recently claimed he admired the CCP’s controversial One Belt One Road initative, which extends major loans to different nations for infrastructure developments in exchange for letting Beijing expand its foreign influence.

“We hold in high regard the One Belt One Road project that will serve to revive the ancient Silk Road,” Mujahid said according to The Telegraph.

The CCP is also keen to revive Afghan copper mining and production to reach global markets.

“Beyond that, we have rich copper mines which thanks to the Chinese can be brought back into production and modernised,” Mujahid said according to the paper. “China represents our passport towards the markets of the whole world.”

However, a growing number of western nations consider the loan to be more like a debt trap. Countries that take the money unwittingly let the CCP expand its geopolitical power over their respective regions.

Taliban representatives previously met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin during July 2021. The CCP chose not to withdraw its embassy staff from Kabul despite the recent U.S. withdrawal and terrorist attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Mujahid is also keen to form a separate partnership with Russia according to Anadolu Agency.

For now the militant group is focusing on repairing and reopening the airport.

“The airport should be clean within the next three days and will be rebuilt in a short time,” Mujahid said according to the Tribune. “I hope it will be operational again in September.”

Taliban fighters seized the presidential palace on Aug. 15. U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials have already fled the nation.

Fighters are trying to form government and are expected to make an announcement shortly.

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