Staunton, February 22 – Official Beijing has been careful not to talk about historical Chinese claims to much of the territory of Tajikistan, but blogger have not been so careful. Last year, there was a spate of such claims (jamestown.org/program/beijing-implies-tajikistans-pamir-region-should-be-returned-to-china/). Now, there has been another.
The Tajik government has reacted angrily this time around, perhaps because Chinese involvement in the Pamir region of that country and the expansion of China’s presence in the region have more Tajiks worried about Beijing’s intentions (jamestown.org/program/porosity-of-tajik-afghan-border-making-beijings-involvement-in-region-more-ominous/).
A week ago, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojidin Muhridin said that Dushanbe have handed over to Chinese representatives a protest note concerning Chines blogger articles suggesting that much or even all of Tajikistan should be absorbed by Beijing (ia-centr.ru/experts/nargis-arabova/vernut-pamir-tadzhikskie-zemli-opyat-pod-pritselom-kitaya/).
Beijing has not responded publicly, and some in Dushanbe believe that the protest note was pro forma, intended to calm Tajiks who are convinced that their government is overly deferential to China. But however that may be, a few days later, the Chinese government did take down the offending blog posts.
China’s presence in Tajikistan is overwhelming. Not only does it control almost all the country’s natural resources but it finances the government and pays for many of Dushanbe’s power projects. More important, it controls significant portions of the Tajik elite and has a track record of seeking land that had belonged to Tajikistan.
A decade ago, Dushanbe agreed to transfer portions of the Murgab district in the Pamirs to China; and many Tajiks expect and perhaps even more Chinese think that this will be followed by even more territorial adjustments especially given the growing Chinese economic and military presence in the border regions.
Chinese blogger posts are only the tip of the iceberg, many Tajiks say. They note that Beijing officials refer to the Murgab District as the Pamirs, an indication that China views more than just what it has already received from Tajikistan as properly its own and may be planning to insist that more of that region be transferred to China in the near future.
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