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Builds Military Base in                          Afghanistan


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Afghan Badakhshan province borders the
China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. In ancient times, Badakhshan was a
stopover on the ancient Silk Road – a
thoroughfare linking the East to the West established in the days of the Chinese
Han Dynasty.  The Silk Road is being
revived.  So is the
China’s interest
in the province. It wants it to be secure and is helping to reconstruct

needs raw materials. Afghanistan boasts significant deposits of them, including
iron ore and gold, as well as other riches to become available if the nation
enters a period of stability.  Beijing is to
$55 billion in Pakistan to create an economic corridor to link
it to the Arabian Sea. China is the Afghanistan’s largest trading partner and top
investor. According to its “One
Belt, One Road” (OBOR) project, a vast transportation infrastructure
is to be built in Afghanistan and Central Asia. To do it, Beijing needs peace
in Afghanistan- something the United States   has
failed to achieve since 2001. One year on, the Trump administration has not
presented a long-awaited strategy defining its Afghanistan policy, despite the
fact that there are 8400 American troops in the country with several thousand
more to arrive. The US relationships with key actors, such as Pakistan, are in
shambles. Washington has just suspended military aid to the country.    

The instability in Afghanistan threatens the OBOR as a whole and
especially its flagship project – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China is
applying efforts
to reduce tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing
a meeting of the three countries’ foreign ministers in 2017,
setting up a platform for improvement of the relations between Islamabad and
Kabul. The three parties agreed to establish working panels in various areas,
including politics, military, intelligence, and economy.  Another round of tripartite talks at foreign
ministers’ level is  to take place this year
in Kabul.

situation in Afghanistan is directly linked to Beijing’s security as the East
Turkistan Islamic Movement, a Uighur
nationalist and Islamic movement from China’s Xinjiang region, is involved in hostilities, joining efforts
with the Taliban and Central Asian militant groups in that country. China has a
90 km common border with Afghanistan.

and China share security concerns and step up military aid to Central Asian
states.  Both countries believe that the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has a role to play in Afghanistan. Both
are trying to build up a counter-terrorism network of regional states. Moscow
and Beijing are motivated by their national interests, which coincide. As major
powers in the region they are joining to promote security in Afghanistan and Central

month, the Afghan government officials reported
that China is to build a military base in Badakhshan.  An agreement
was achieved last month during the talks between
Chinese and Afghan defense chiefs. China will shoulder all the expenses,
including weapons and equipment, but the facility will be manned by Afghan
personnel. No doubt, Chinese military instructors and other personnel will be
there. The preparations have already
begun.  According
to Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu
Qilian, the construction is expected to be complete in 2018.

2017, the Taliban delivered severe blows against the Afghan government temporarily
capturing Ishkashim and Zebak districts of Badakhshan. With the security forces
stretched thin, the Afghan government could not provide the military presence
substantial enough to ensure security. Before the attacks, an agreement with
local field commanders had been in place, giving them their share of   lapis lazuli, a deep blue metamorphic
rock, production in exchange for peace. But internal
bickering undermined the fragile peace between the local groups and the Taliban
seized the opportunity to intervene. The Islamic State’s presence in the
province is a matter of special concern. 
It all makes border security an issue of paramount importance for

question is how far is China ready to go? Until now, it has limited its
military activities to special operations groups patrolling the Wakhan
Corridor.   A military base in Badakhshan is another big step
on the way to further involvement. It’s only natural that China is applying
efforts to stabilize the country close to its border. Beijing has a trump card
the US lacks – the cooperation
of Russia and Pakistan. Beijing represents the SCO, a large international
organization comprising directly concerned states, such as Turkey, Iran, India,
Pakistan and the states of Central Asia. 
The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group’s activities were
suspended in 2009 to restart last year upon the initiative of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia advocates launching the start of direct talks between the Afghan
Government and the Taliban as soon as possible. So does Beijing. Moscow is
ready to host a
conference on Afghanistan.   

SCO’s participation can make the crisis management process a real international
endeavor with broad representation. It will diminish the role of the United
States but boost chances for peace. The combination of security cooperation and
diplomatic activities can open new prospects for the war-torn country. 





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