Monday, January 08, 2018

China is building an Army base, not manning one, for the Afghan armed forces

Report: China Building Military Base on Afghan-Tajik Border
January 7, 2018 - 10:35pm, by Joshua Kucera

Report: China Building Military Base on Afghan-Tajik Border
A Chinese truck stop in Murghab, near Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan and China. China is reportedly building a new military base in Afghanistan, in which case this road could see more Chinese military traffic. (photo: The Bug Pit)

China is building a military base for the Afghan armed forces in the province of Badakhshan, a senior Afghan military official has said. The plan, if it is realized, promises a deeper Chinese military involvement in Tajikistan, which is necessary as a supply corridor to Badakhshan.

The plans for the new base were worked out during a visit last month by an Afghan defense delegation to Beijing,  the official, General Dawlat Waziri, told the news site Fergana News.

At that meeting, the two sides announced their intention to “deepen pragmatic cooperation in various fields including anti-terrorism operations, and push forward the state and military relations between the two countries.”

China will supply everything the base needs, Waziri said, including "weapons, uniforms for soldiers, military equiment and everything else needed for its [the base's] functioning," Fergana reported.

This is the latest move in Beijing's steadily increasing involvement in security issues on its western border.

"China worries that Chinese Uighurs among the terrorists' ranks can cross into Chinese territory through Afghanistan and become a headache for the Chinese authorities," one Afghan security official told Fergana on condition of anonymity.

For Central Asia, this has important implications because Tajijkistan appears to be an integral part of Chinese-Afghan military cooperation. Badakhshan shares a short (76-kilometer) border with China, but in a region impassable by vehicles.

Badakhshan is most easily reached from China via Tajikistan's Pamir region, and some media have reported that Chinese military vehicles were using Tajikistan territory to transit to Badakhshan for military patrols. (A western diplomat in Central Asia has told The Bug Pit that those reports were credible.)

China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan (which also borders Badakhstan) are all members of a new Beijing-led security grouping, the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism, rolled out in 2016, to Russia's consternation. Also in 2016, China and Tajikistan held their first-ever joint bilateral military exercises in the part of Tajikistan bordering on Badakhshan.

A Chinese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Kabul-based analyst Franz J. Marty a year ago that the Chinese patrols inside Afghanistan had ended in late 2016.

It's not clear whether those patrols were ever restarted, but this base, if realized, would seem to portend much heavier traffic in the future.

The Fergana report said, citing an unnamed source in the Afghanistan Defense Ministry, that work has already begun on the base's planning. A special commission has been created to work out the base's location and other technical details, and a delegation of Chinese military experts were going to be visiting Afghanistan in the coming days to work on that, Fergana reported.

My previous blog entry:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wakhan Corridor -- China's back door to Afghanistan

Back in June 2009, China mulled the request to open the Wakhan Corridor to serve as an alternative supply route to help forces battling the Taliban. At the same time, the latest Google Earth images show this new road, supply depots, and constructed guard posts. This corridor has been closed for over 100 years and was considered inaccessible as recent as 2007. The decision to now open the corridor is no longer a logistical issue.

Here is the link to my previous blog entry regarding the Wakhan Corridor

China mulls Afghan border request

Chinese and Afghan foreign ministry officials may open up a strategically important and scenic border area, officials say after a meeting.

The two sides met in Beijing this week to discuss the 76km (47 mile) border that divides the two countries, known as the Wakhan Corridor.

Afghanistan wants the border to be opened as an alternative supply route to help forces battling the Taliban.

The Chinese say they will "earnestly study" the proposal.

'Positive attitude'

"The (terrorism) solution must be comprehensive, regional and international," Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said in a speech earlier this week.

He said it was his "personal wish" to open the Wakhan Corridor.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his country would adopt "an earnest and positive attitude" on co-operation with Afghanistan "on transport, trade and economy".

"We're willing to earnestly study his suggestions," he said.

The Wakhan Corridor is about 210km long (130 miles) long.

Correspondents say that the idea of using it as an alternative route for supplying US and Nato forces in Afghanistan has been floated before.

They say the call by Afghanistan is likely to fall on deaf ears in China, which fiercely resists any initiatives viewed as undermining its national sovereignty.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A follow up to my earlier blog entry of “Will China play a more “direct” role in both the Pakistan and Afghanistan conflicts”

Photo of the Wakhan Corridor from the PLA Daily.

A follow up to my earlier blog entry of “Will China play a more “direct” role in both the Pakistan and Afghanistan conflicts”

There was speculation that China would play a “more active role” in supporting NATO's attempt to pacify Afghanistan, especially after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Chinese forces could join the military coalition in Afghanistan during a speech to Council on Foreign Relations (here)

It was followed shortly by NATO’s statement that we “may ask China to provide support for the war effort in Afghanistan, including possibly opening a supply link for alliance forces” (here) However, those two diplomatic overtures met with the standard Chinese government statement of “placing the decision under consideration” and in June 2008, Afghanistan's foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, joined the call for China to open the Wakhan Corridor to be used as a supply route for NATO’s ongoing operation. (here)

Since I blogged “Will China play a more 'direct' role in both Pakistan and Afghanistan conflicts," there were no major developments as China seemed to follow its foreign policy doctrine of "noninterference in others internal affairs" strictly. Recently, the Chinese media has started to focus on the developments in Central Asia. Perhaps it is due to the recent Xinjing riot as both the Global Times (here) and the PLA Daily (here) wrote articles about the Wakhan Corridor to generate interest in that region. Today, photos of PAP (People's Armed Police) personnel training Afghan police surfaced on Chinese internet (as opposed to the "other" internet). Oddly enough, there is nothing in the media that has covered this important shift.


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