Iran International Exclusive Report Confirms Chinese Military Outpost In Tajikistan
In an exclusive report from Tajikistan, Iran International TV’s correspondent has revealed a Chinese military presence. In one of a series of reports from the country, broadcast on September 20 on IITV, the reporter visited the core of the Pamir highlands to investigate China’s armed presence along the highway from Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, to Badakhshan, a region divided between Tajikistan and Afghanistan by the river Panj.
The area is close to the strategic Vakhom corridor created out of the rivalry among colonial powers at the beginning of the 20th century. This area was strategically important historically when the Silk Road carried trade between nations from China to Italy.
People in the small town of Morghab told Iran International TV that Chinese soldiers used to visit to buy essential commodities but had remained in their barracks, just outside the nearby village of Shaymakh, since the coronavirus pandemic.
Other reports say Chinese officers at the base prevent local journalists from approaching. The base’s existence is officially denied.
“The Tajik military post in the area is only 100 meters away from the Chinese post,” one man told our correspondent. “There is also an Afghan military post about 10 kilometers away.”
Our correspondent reported that the Tajik and Chinese military area was set up in 2016 for Tajik, Afghan and Chinese militaries. Its main role was to beef up security at the border with Afghanistan.
China is concerned about the infiltration of Afghanistan-based Uyghur insurgents into western China via Tajikistan, said the correspondent. China has problems with Uyghur unrest in the Xingiang Province and international media have accused Beijing of violating human rights.The IITV correspondent was not allowed to film the Chinese base. According to the correspondent, such secrecy has caused concern among those living in the area.
A resident in Morghab told Iran International that the sight of Chinese soldiers has surprised locals. For some, the Chinese presence evokes memories of soldiers of the former Soviet Union.
Last year, Chinese forces took part in a joint military exercise with Tajik soldiers in the Pamir area. According to Iran International, an existing agreement between China and Tajikistan that allowed the Chinese presence is soon coming to an end.
But discussing IITV’s report, Eurasianet, a website focused on Central Asia and hosted by Columbia University, writes that the United States “is confident that not only is the Chinese military present in Tajikistan, but that it wants to expand its footprint in the country.” Eurasianet cites a Pentagon report published September 1 that Beijing is “seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] to project and sustain military power at greater distances.”