China Seeks Military Bases in Pakistan's Restive Tribal Region
China is interested in setting up military bases in Pakistan, near the Xinjiang border, according to a report in Pakistan’s The News International which cited diplomatic sources. From The Economic Times:
China has expressed an interest in setting up military bases in Pakistan’s volatile tribal area or the Northern Areas, close to the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang, to counter the activities of extremists, according to a media report today.
The Chinese desire is aimed at containing the growing terrorist activities of Chinese rebels of the al-Qaeda-linked East Turkestan Islamic Movement, The News daily quoted diplomatic sources as saying.
The Chinese rebels want an independent Islamic state and are reportedly being trained in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
China’s wish to have a military presence in Pakistan was discussed at length by the political and military leadership of both countries in recent months as Beijing has become more concerned about the Pakistan’s tribal belt serving as a haven for radicals, the report said.
“Beijing believes that similar to the American military presence in Pakistan, a Chinese presence would enable its military to effectively counter the Muslim separatists who had been operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan for almost a decade and carrying out cross-border terrorist activities in the trouble-stricken Xinjiang Province,” the report said.
The Chinese government rushed to deny that it has military bases in Pakistan, which the author of the original report, Amir Mir, argued was beside the point. From The News International:
China on Wednesday categorically denied that it had military bases abroad. “China has no military bases overseas,” said Foreign Ministry Spokeswomen Jiang Yu when asked to comment on a print media report published in Pakistan ….
Amir Mir adds: nowhere in the report titled “China seeking military bases in Pakistan” stated that China already has any military base in Pakistan.
The Chinese Foreign Office has rightly claimed that China has no military bases in Pakistan and that the story filed by him only reported the Chinese desire to set up military bases either in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of Pakistan or in the Federally Administered Northern Areas (Fana) to counter the rising terrorist activities of the Chinese Muslim separatists in the trouble-stricken Xinjiang Province. Amir Mir, therefore, stands by his story.
Military matters aside, China and Pakistan have been moving closer together with trade and investment deals. From South Asian News Agency:
Ambassador Masood Khan has said that Pakistan has benefited a lot from Chinese investment.
Talking to media persons on the sidelines of a conference here, he said Pakistan has reassured Chinese investors that the country’s investment environment is safe and secure.
He said that Pakistan has also welcomed more Chinese enterprises to engage in projects related to infrastructure construction, energy and resources, port development as well as other sectors in the neighbouring country.
He pointed out that the government has taken special measures to ensure protection of China’s 120 projects and over 13,000 workers in Pakistan.
Chinese investment projects in Pakistan mainly include hydropower, thermal, nuclear and alternate energy sectors.
Pakistan’s ambassador Khan says his country envisions Chinese investment of more than 11 billion US dollars in the energy sector during the next five years.