China take place this year in Kabul. The East

China
Builds Military Base in                          Afghanistan

                                                      
Peter KORZUN

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The Afghan Badakhshan province borders
the China’s province of Xinjiang. Badakhshan
was a stopover on the ancient Silk Road – a road 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
infrastructure.

China
needs stable supplies of resources from   Afghanistan.  Beijing is to invest
$55 billion to create an economic corridor going through Afghanistan
to the Arabian Sea. China is the Afghanistan’s largest trading partner and investor.   According to
its “One
Belt, One Road” (OBOR) project, a big infrastructure is to be
built in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Stability in Afghanistan meets the
China’s interests but there is little hope the United States can bring it.   After all, it has not achieved any
substantial gains since 2001. There have been surges and reductions, changes of
tactics and strategy, numerous reports on how to change the tide but the
Taliban is strong, economy is still in shambles with and drugs trafficking
being the only business thriving. So far, 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. The presence will
increase soon. The US relationships with pertinent  actors, such as Pakistan, are in shambles.
Washington has suspended military aid to that country.   

The instability in Afghanistan threatens the China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor – an important element of OBOR. China is acting as a mediator to reconcile
the   differences between the countries of the region.
Beijing is working hard  to improve the Afghanistan-Pakistan
relations. It arranged a tripartite
meeting at foreign ministers level in 2017. The talks produced
working panels to promote cooperation in various areas.  Another meeting is  expected to take place this
year in Kabul.

The
East
Turkistan Islamic Movement, a Uighur
nationalist and Islamic movement from China’s Xinjiang region, is operating in Afghanistan. The militants gain
combat experience fighting side by side with the Taliban and other militant
groups.

Russia
and China step up military aid to Central Asian states.  They believe that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
(SCO) can substantially contribute into achieving peaceful settlement. Both are
trying to create a network  of regional
states. Moscow and Beijing are motivated by their national interests, which
coincide. As major powers they are working together to promote security in
Afghanistan and Central Asia.

All
told, the China’s interest is strong enough to justify military engagement beyond
its borders. The Afghan government officials reported
that China is to
build a military base in Badakhshan.  The discussions
on the location and further technicalities for the base are
to start soon. The weapons and equipment will be Chinese but
the facility will be manned by Afghan military. No doubt, Chinese military
instructors and other personnel will come to carry out for train and assist
missions. The preparations for construction have already
begun.  Vice Chairman
of China’s Central Military Commission Xu
Qilian said
the construction is expected to be complete in 2018.