Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said his country is "concerned" about the impact of recent policies introduced by Afghanistan's Taliban government on the rights of women, state media reported on Friday.
Qin's comments at a regional summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan come after a decision by the conservative Taliban authorities to bar women from working for the United Nations sparked international outrage.
"China and other friendly neighbours of Afghanistan are concerned about the recent policies and measures taken by the Afghan side and their possible impact on the basic rights and interests of Afghan women," Qin told reporters on Thursday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
But the foreign minister added that while the issue of women's rights and interests is very important "it is not the whole issue of Afghanistan, nor is it the core or root cause of Afghanistan's problems".
"We should neither turn a blind eye to this problem nor ignore it," he said.
Under their austere interpretation of Islam, Taliban authorities have imposed a slew of restrictions on Afghan women since seizing power in 2021, including banning them from higher education and many government jobs.
Taliban officials have argued that their extension of curbs on female employment to include the UN's operations in the country – announced by a spokesperson for the international body on April 4 – is an "internal issue".
Since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops in August 2021, the Taliban government has failed to establish formal diplomatic relations with any other nation.
China harshly criticised what they saw as a hasty and ill-planned departure of US military personnel, saying at the time that they were ready to enter "friendly and cooperative" relations with the new government.
Ahead of Qin's visit to Central Asia this week, China's foreign ministry released a position paper on Afghanistan, affirming that it "respects the independent choices made by the Afghan people, and respects the religious beliefs and national customs".
The position paper added that China would never seek to "interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs", nor would it "pursue so-called sphere of influence".