Amid persisting rumors that China is eyeing a future military presence at abandoned American bases inside Afghanistan, the neighboring country of Tajikistan has confirmed China has been approved to construct a special forces base on the Tajik-Afghan border.
The Chinese military outpost will reportedly be located in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the Pamir mountains, coming at a moment of heightened border security as thousands of Afghans have in recent months sought to flee hardline Taliban rule.
However, while it's Chinese funded, a Tajik parliament spokesman said the base will host a special forces unit of the national police, and rejected that Chinese troops would be directly deployed there. But the question of joint training operations wasn't ruled out.
However, according to US media arm RFERL, China is being allowed to expand its military footprint elsewhere in the central Asian country:
In a separate development, the Tajik government has offered to transfer full control of a preexisting Chinese military base in the country to Beijing and 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 and seen by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service.
Additionally the publication concludes, "The two developments paint a picture of a growing Chinese military footprint in the Central Asian country as Beijing and its neighbors in the region turn their attention toward an increasingly tenuous security situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban's mid-August takeover."
RFERL quotes a geopolitical analyst at London's Royal United Services Institute, Raffaello Pantucci, to say of the new special forces base: "This decision to build such a facility is one of only a few known examples for China around the world."
Underscoring that China is being greenlighted to build more outposts in Tajikistan after constructing the new base, an official of Tajik parliament’s lower house, Tolibkhon Azimzoda, confirmed the facility will be under direct command of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, which in turn will allow China to be exempt from all customs duties for machinery and equipment.
Despite the Tajik government currently downplaying that Chinese forces would be deployed on the border at the new base, it's highly likely that at the very least there will be training deployments there in support of local Tajik security forces. Interestingly, this comes at a time that central Asian countries are also allowing an increased Russian presence amid the ongoing security breakdown in nearby Afghanistan.