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China seeks to build military bases in Pakistan

October 25, 2011

From the Asia Times:

The Chinese desire is meant to contain growing terrorist activities of Chinese rebels belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) that is also described as the Turkistani Islamic Party (TIP).   The Chinese Muslim rebels want the creation of an independent Islamic state and are allegedly being trained in the tribal areas of Pakistan. According to well-placed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, Beijing’s wish for a military presence in Pakistan was discussed at length by the political and military leadership of both countries in recent months as China (which views the Uyghur separatist sentiment as a dire threat) has become ever-more concerned about Pakistan’s tribal areas as a haven for radicals.

Pakistan is more eager to have the Chinese begin building the long discussed naval base at Gwadar, part of China’s long term “string of pearls” strategy.  Perhaps allowing military bases on their frontier will part of a quid pro quo for Gwadar.  In any case, Pakistan is playing a delicate game.  For decades, they curried favor with the US as a means of balancing the power of their arch rival India.  However, as the Americans have grown tired of their duplicity and double dealing, they are switching to China.  However, a Chinese presence in Pakistan is likely to provoke India to beef up its own military presence in the region.

Central Asia is suddenly bristling with great power military forces.  India has been making efforts to build a presence in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; Russia retains a strong presence their, both economically and militarily, and the US remains engaged not only in Afghanistan but also in Kazakstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan through its Northern Distribution Network.  Now, China seeks to add troops to the mix.   Aggressive Chinese expansion of influence already has observers wondering whether they are allies or competitors with Russia.  With actual military forces of all these great powers jostling in close proximity, the potential for conflict only seems to be growing.

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