China presses Russia in Central Asia

16/03/2016 15:27
Asia-Plus
Views: 11552

DUSHANBE, March 16, 2016, Asia-Plus – Creation of political alliance of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan under the patronage of China was one of focuses of negotiations between Zamir Kabulov, Russian President’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, and Deng Xijun, Special Envoy on Afghan Affairs of China’s Foreign Ministry, which took place in Moscow on March 15, according to Russian newspaper Izvestiya.

“The negotiations focused on the current situation in Afghanistan, threats and challenges to interests of Russia and China emanating from there, and cooperation between Russia and China in this context without linkage to principally new strategic partnership between Beijing, Islamabad, Dushanbe and Kabul,” Kabulov told Izvestiya.

According to him, they also discussed recent visit of Chief of General Staff of China’s Army to Kabul.

The partnership between China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan on creation of a new system of security in the region was also touched upon during the negotiations, Kabulov said, noting that “it is a positive move.”  He said they had discussed only border control and terrorists infiltration issues.

“It does not mean that China intends to use its armed forces,” said Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan.  “We do not need to join [this alliance].  We have our own plans within the frameworks of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).  Moreover, we discuss these issues with China within the frameworks of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).”      

Izvestiya also notes that negotiations of chiefs of general staffs of Chinese and Pakistani armies have taken place in Dushanbe.  While in Kabul, Chief of General Staff of China’s Army Fang Fenghui reportedly also discussed issues related to formation of legal foundation for Beijing, Islamabad, Dushanbe and Kabul to provide security in the region.

Meanwhile, in a piece in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russian Central Asia analyst Alexander Knyazev suggests the Russian-Tajik large-scale military exercises on the Tajik-Afghan border are meant as a message from Russia to Tajikistan.  Russian expert documents a number of security cooperation activities China has recently undertaken in Tajikistan, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and suggests that Beijing is trying to sideline more established regional security structures (CSTO and SCO) in favor of some new structure.

“In this context it can't be ruled out that the military exercises taking place in Tajikistan, aside from their primary significance, also have a demonstration and preemptive character, from Russia to China and Tajikistan," Knyazev concludes.

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