China is expected to build a base for Tajik special police unit on the Afghan border in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

Speaking at a regular sitting of Tajikistan’s lower chamber (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament, First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Abdurahmon Alamshozoda said yesterday that China’s Ministry of Public Security would construct and outfit the facility for Tajikistan’s special rapid deployment police unit, known as SOBR in its Russian acronym.

According to Alamshozoda, the facility will be located in Wakhan Valley, GBAO’s Ishkashim district.

55 million yuans (equivalent to about 100 million somonis or about 8.6 million U.S. dollars) are expected to be spent on construction and outfitting the facility before handing it over to Tajikistan’s SOBR.

Majlisi Namoyandagon members say no Chinese personnel will be housed at that base.

The Majlisi Namoyandagon ratified the deal.

Meanwhile, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service says the fact that the base is being built by China's police force may raise eyebrows. 

RFE/RL reports that according to a communique sent from the Chinese Embassy in Dushanbe to Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry and seen by it, the Tajik government has offered to transfer full control of a preexisting Chinese military base in the country to Beijing and waive any future rent in exchange for military aid from China.

It is to be noted that it will not be the first border facility China has built for Tajikistan.

China already operates a military base in Tajikistan in GBAO’s Murgab district near the Afghan border in a remote stretch close to the Wakhan Corridor.  The collection of facilities and outposts is believed to have been in operation for at least five years and was the subject of a recent investigation by RFE/RL that showed Chinese personnel taking on a growing role in the area.

Both the Chinese and Tajik governments have officially denied the base’s existence and few details about its ownership and operation are known. The documents seen by RFE/RL's Tajik Service say that Chinese personnel are operating at the base in Tajikistan, but that it currently is owned by Dushanbe.

RFE/RL's Tajik Service says that according to the documents, the proposal to transfer ownership of the base to China was presented by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe when he visited the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in July.

China and Tajikistan have discussed cooperation on the Afghan border since at least 2016, when they agreed that Beijing would build 10 border facilities along Tajikistan’s common border with Afghanistan.  One opened that year in Shouroobod district (currently Shamsiddin-Shohin district) in Khatlon province.