China denies it is building military base in Afghanistan

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Beijing, Aug 29 (IANS) China on Wednesday denied a media report that it is helping Afghanistan build a military base and eventually plans to deploy its military in the strife-torn country.

According to the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post, Beijing has begun building a training camp for Afghan troops in a narrow corridor that connects the two countries.

The daily quoted a source as saying the Beijing was fully funding the base to help Kabul improve counterterrorism efforts.

Once the camp was completed, the People’s Liberation Army was likely to send hundreds of military personnel – at least one battalion worth – to Afghanistan’s isolated Wakhan Corridor, the Post quoted another source as saying.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the report was “not true”.

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Asked which part of the report Beijing was denying, Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “You know this report which talked about China planning to set up military training bases and send in troops. If setting up military bases is not true, then what comes next is also not true.”

The corridor is a barren and inhospitable stretch of land that connects Afghanistan’s province of Badakhshan to China’s restive Xinjiang.

China has launched a massive crackdown against Ugyhur Muslims in Xingjiang who it suspects have separatist tendencies.

Afghanistan has become increasingly important for China’s own security as well as President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade and infrastructure plan.

–IANS

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