Staunton, Jan. 4 – The more than 50,000 of Chinese citizens whom Beijing calls Tajiks in fact aren’t ethnically Tajik at all; they are Pamiri peoples whom the Chinese authorities have grouped together and called Tajiks even though they speak a different language and follow a different religion than the Tajiks in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
That distinction, highlighted in a new post by the Central Asia page of Zen.Yandex for its Russian audience, helps to explain why Beijing is so nervous about the continuing unrest in Tajikistan’s Badakhshan region (zen.yandex.ru/media/centralasia/kto-takie-kitaiskie-tadjiki-i-pochemu-ih-ne-schitaiut-rodnei-v-tadjikistane-6203d0ada3f4c270f870e5dc?&).
China’s repressive policies toward other Central Asian nationalities within its borders have not yet extended to its “Tajiks.” But that is likely to happen now given how disturbed Beijing has shown itself to be by what is happening in the Pamir region of Tajikistan (jamestown.org/program/tajikistans-pamir-region-descends-into-chaos/).
Beijing has already set up two military facilities in Tajikistan. Nominally, they are for the Tajik military but it has been widely reported that Chinese are staffing them. Both are in the Badakhshan; and it is quite possible, Beijing will use them to suppress the unrest in that restive region if Dushanbe and Moscow are unable to do so.
On these bases and what they might presage for a Chinese move into Tajikistan, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/01/new-chinese-base-in-tajikistan-will.html, jamestown.org/program/russia-china-dividing-responsibilities-in-tajikistan-is-conflict-possible/ and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/02/moscow-largely-unfazed-by-chinas.html.