Having made significant investments in the conflict-prone Pakistan-Afghanistan region as part of its hugely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, China is planning to protect its interests in the two countries by stationing its own forces in specially created outposts, according to top diplomatic sources.
China has been keen to expand its influence to central Asia through the Pakistan-Afghanistan route and has made strategic investments in the two countries.
A Chinese ship with abilities to track satellites and intercontinental missiles docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port Tuesday morning amid snooping concerns expressed by India.
Pakistan, where according to some estimates the Chinese investments have risen above USD 60 billion, is largely dependent on China not only for financial but also military and diplomatic support.
Given the huge imbalance of power in its favour, China has begun to put pressure on Pakistan to allow the building of outposts where it would station its armed personnel.
Afghanistan, where Taliban are ruling now, however, is yet to meet the expectations of both China as well as Pakistan on many counts.
Top diplomatic and security sources in Islamabad who requested anonymity for this report, believe that China’s People Liberation Army is working at a war scale to establish military outposts in Afghanistan and Pakistan for what it claims would be smoother operations and expansion of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
According to a diplomatic source, the Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong has held meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto and Chief of Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa in this regard.
Ambassador Rong has not been in Pakistan since the end of March 2022 this year, only just arrived recently in the country.