China is opening up another front in its relentless drive to expand its territorial claims. The latest target of the Communist Party’s seemingly insatiable expansionist agenda is the central Asian republic of Tajikistan. More than 90 per cent of the territory of this Muslim majority country is mountainous.
Recent articles in the state-controlled Chinese media, which don’t publish anything without the prior approval of the Communist Party, have called for Tajikistan’s Pamir mountain range, which runs along the Tajik border with Afghanistan and China, to be ceded to China.
According to a report in the Times of India, these include an article by a Chinese nationalist historian who cited official sources to make the audacious claim that the entire Pamir region rightfully belonged to China and needed to be returned.
This despite the fact that the two countries signed a border agreement in 2011. Clearly, the Xi Jinping regime is now emboldened enough to pay scant respect to both formal agreements as in the case of Tajikistan and informal understandings like it has with India regarding the Line of Actual Control.
China and central Asia
Part of the erstwhile Soviet Union, Tajikistan became independent in 1991 but the very next year it saw a civil war that lasted five years. Since then the country has been ruled with an iron grip by the dictatorial president Emomali Rahmon.
Because of its Soviet past, Tajikistan had remained in the Russian sphere of influence, but in the last two decades, there’s another giant, China, to reckon with which has much deeper pockets than Russia. China, which shares borders with more than a dozen countries, including Tajikistan, has ramped up investments in Central Asia.