Tajikistan has accepted a Chinese proposal to build a police outpost on the Afghan border, local media reported on Thursday, in the latest indication of Beijing’s growing security concerns in the region after the US withdrew from Afghanistan.
The Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which primarily oversees domestic security, would spend about 100 million somoni (US$8.9 million) on the facility before turning it over to Tajik control, local media site Asia-Plus reported, citing remarks in parliament by Tajik First Deputy Interior Minister Abdurahmon Alamshozoda.
No Chinese personnel would be housed there, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik service reported, citing a local deputy.
However, the base is the latest sign of China’s increasingly willingness to make security commitments outside its borders.
China has expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan since the US fully removed its forces from the country in August and urged the new Taliban-led Afghan government to prevent terror groups from forming.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he was unaware of the reports about the project.
Tajik officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Chinese troops have been based in Tajikistan since at least 2016 at an outpost near Shaymak, near the Wakhan Corrider, a narrow strip of Afghan territory that borders China’s Xinjiang region, the Washington Post has reported.
The new facility would be in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province’s Ishkashim District, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a Tajik parliamentary spokesperson.
The facility would be further up the Wakhan Corrider toward Kabul and just 20km from Pakistan.
Beijing routinely rejects the description of its overseas military facilities as bases, and Tajikistan has denied a Chinese military presence in the country.
The public security ministry, which is reportedly building the new outpost, is closely associated with the Chinese People’s Armed Police, a 1.5 million-member paramilitary organization under the direct command of the Chinese Central Military Commission led by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
However, China is not alone among major powers seeking to firm up Tajikistan’s porous frontier. The US last month announced that it would build a guard post in Ayvoj, its 13th since 2002.
Russia in May said that it was financing the construction of an outpost on the Afghan border.
It also operates a military base in the country, which is set to take delivery of 30 new tanks this year, the Interfax news agency reported last month.
China views Afghanistan’s stability as key to prevent terror groups from spilling into Xinjiang and protect projects of its Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan.
China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations vice director Fu Xiaoqiang (傅小強) said in a commentary in August that the Afghan chaos had spilled into Tajikistan and Pakistan, and would continue to “implicate the peace along China’s western borders.”
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