Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Tajikistan Approves New Chinese Base As Beijing's Military Presence In Central Asia Grows.

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan has approved the construction of a Chinese military base near the Tajik-Afghan border, in the latest sign of Beijing’s expanding security footprint in the region.
Tajikistan's lower house of parliament on October 27 approved construction of the facility as part of an agreement between Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry and China’s Ministry of Public Security. Tajik First Deputy Interior Minister Abdurahmon Alamshozoda said the facility would be located in the village of Vakhon in the remote Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province and that the base would be owned by the country’s Rapid Reaction Group -- special forces that operate under the purview of the Interior Ministry. Lawmakers said regular Tajik troops would also be at the outpost.


The Tajik government has also offered to transfer full control of a preexisting Chinese military base in the country to Beijing and to waive any future rent in exchange for military aid from China, according to a communique sent from the Chinese Embassy in Dushanbe to Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry that was seen by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service. China already operates a military base in Tajikistan near the Afghan border in the country’s Murghab region, a remote area close to the Wakhan Corridor. The collection of facilities and outposts is believed to have been in operation for at least five years.


Both the Chinese and Tajik governments have officially denied the base’s existence and few details about its ownership and operation are known. The documents seen by RFE/RL acknowledge that Chinese personnel are operating at the base, but that it is currently owned by Tajikistan.

According to the documents , the proposal to transfer ownership of the base to China was presented by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe when he was on a trip to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in July.
The documents do not state if Beijing has agreed to the Tajik proposal, but they summarize an offer put forward by Rahmon where China would provide increased funding to build up Tajik military points along the border with Afghanistan in exchange for Dushanbe transferring full control of the existing facilities to China and not charging any basing fees. The developments show a growing Chinese military presence in the Central Asian country as Beijing and other regional countries turn their attention towards an unstable security situation in Afghanistan.

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