Worried about militants sneaking into a restive Chinese region from war-torn Afghanistan, Beijing is in talks with Kabul over the construction of a military base, Afghan officials say, as it seeks to shore up its fragile neighbor. The army camp will be built in Afghanistan's remote and mountainous Wakhan Corridor, where witnesses have reported seeing Chinese and Afghan troops on joint patrols.
The freezing, barren panhandle of land bordering China's tense Xinjiang region, is so cut off from the rest of Afghanistan that many inhabitants are unaware of the Afghan conflict, scraping out harsh but peaceful lives. However they retain strong links with neighburs in Xinjiang, and with so few travelers in the region local interest in the Chinese visitors has been high, residents told AFP on a recent visit there.
China's involvement in the base comes as President Xi Jinping seeks to extend Beijing's economic and geopolitical clout. The Chinese are pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure in South Asia. With Afghanistan's potential to destabilize the region, analysts said any moves there would be viewed through the prism of security. It worries that the Daesh terrorist group militants fleeing Iraq and Syria could cross Central Asia and Xinjiang to reach Afghanistan, or use the Wakhan to enter China, analysts say. Afghan and Chinese officials discussed the plan in December in Beijing, but details are still being clarified, Afghan defense ministry deputy spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said.
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