NEW DELHI: China’s expansionism is finding new territories and unfriending new countries. Tajikistan, one of the smaller and poorer central Asian countries, has been worried since Chinese official media has repeatedly said in the past weeks that the Pamir mountains should be ceded to China.
An article by a Chinese historian Cho Yao Lu, using Chinese sources, says the entire Pamir region belonged to China and should be returned. While the apparent official endorsement has worried the government in Dushanbe, reports say the development has even drawn attention in Russia, which considers the central Asian countries to be part of its strategic backyard.
China and Tajikistan signed a boundary agreement in 2010, when Tajikistan was forced to cede about 1,158 sq km of territory in the Pamirs to China. China is building an airport at Tashkurgan near the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, that is now a growing cause of concern. The Chinese writer says “After the formation of the newest Chinese state (1911), the first task of the authorities was to return the lost lands. Some of the lands were returned, others still remain under the control of neighboring countries. One of such very ancient regions is the Pamir, which was outside China for 128 years due to the pressures of world powers,” writes Chu Yao Lu.
In addition, Chinese government has been talking about gold deposits in Tajikistan. Chinese reports say there are 145 deposits in Tajikistan alone. The Tajik government has allowed a Chinese company to mine and develop these gold deposits from areas of northern Tajikistan. Officials monitoring these developments say this is a classic Chinese manouver, where a road or airport or a development project is used as a thin end of a wedge to take a more muscular position in the country.
Meanwhile, Myanmar is hiring an international consultant to select a developer by international bidding for a Chinese-sponsored multibillion-dollar city project.