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China to build military base in Tajikistan

Context:

China will take full control of a military base in Tajikistan near the Afghan border that it has been quietly operating and will also build a new base for the Tajik government, according to a report.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s military base in Tajikistan
  2. Recently in news: Russia’s support to Tajikistan’s military
  3. Recently in news: Tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  4. Significance of the Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan etc., region for India

About China’s military base in Tajikistan

  • Tajikistan granted approval for the construction of a new base, following an agreement reached between Tajikistan and China.
  • The new base, would be owned by Tajikistan’s Rapid Reaction Group or special forces, and financed by China for a cost of $10 million.
  • It will be located in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous province near the Pamir mountains, and Chinese troops will not be stationed there.
  • While this base will be under Tajik control, the Tajikistan government has also agreed to transfer full control of an existing facility that both sides have been using jointly, a former Soviet base not far from the China-Tajikistan-Afghanistan tri-junction and the Wakhan Corridor, where China shares a less than 100 km border with Afghanistan.
  • Russia and India are among countries that already have a military presence in bases in Tajikistan. China and Tajikistan have, however, continued to officially deny the presence of Chinese security forces there.

Recently in news: Russia’s support to Tajikistan’s military

  • Russia will bolster Central Asian ally Tajikistan’s military with weapons, equipment and training amid a “deteriorating” situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
  • Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will hold joint military drills near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made huge military gains and claims to control 90% of the country’s borders.
  • Russia organized additional supplies of weaponry and equipment to bolster Tajikistan’s Army.
  • Russia continues to train qualified Tajik military personnel.
  • Russia blamed the worsening security situation in the region around Afghanistan on the “hasty” withdrawal of U.S. forces and said that it was ready to offer “any necessary help to” countries like Tajikistan.

Recently in news: Tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

  • Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have claimed the area around the water supply facility in Kok-Tash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.
  • After the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in late 1991 – Soviet mapmakers drew the dividing lines for Soviet republics which is now the current configuration of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
  • The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km length is disputed. Restrictions on access to land and water that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
  • Russia and European Union (EU) welcomed the ceasefire deal and emphasised the need for a lasting and peaceful solution.

Significance of the Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan etc., region for India

  • Central Asia serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe, making it geopolitically axial for India.
  • The region is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminum, gold, silver, coal and uranium which can be best utilized by Indian energy requirements.
  • Central Asia has huge cultivable areas lying barren and without being put to any productive use, offering enormous opportunity for cultivation of pulses.
  • India intends expansion of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. This will act as a vital gateway to access Eurasian markets and optimally operationalize its use, requiring a Central Asian state joining the project as a direct stakeholder.
  • India has proposed setting up of ‘India-Central Asia Development Group’ to take forward development partnership between India & Central Asian countries. This group will help India to expand its footprints in the resource-rich region amid China’s massive inroads and to fight terror effectively, including in Afghanistan.
  • India has a very wide array of interests in Central Asia covering security, energy, economic opportunities etc., therefore Security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development of India.
  • Both India and Central Asian Republics (CARs) share many commonalities and perceptions on various regional and world issues and can play a crucial role in providing regional stability.

-Source: The Hindu

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October 2022
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