“A temporary exercise control department is being created to prepare and conduct the exercises.”
The government of Tajikistan has, in recent years, only rarely released information about its security cooperation activities with China.[i] The accompanying excerpted article from Tajikistan’s independent news website Asia Plus reports on a recent agreement signed by the governments of Tajikistan and China to carry out a series of joint biennial exercises focusing on counterterrorism. While the Tajik government again provided few details about the agreement, there is enough information to gauge how it fits within broader expectations of Tajik-Chinese security cooperation going forward. The article reports that the agreement calls for joint counterterrorism exercises between Tajikistan and China to take place “at least once every two years” and that their purpose is “to strengthen and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership.” The article also mentions that both sides are looking to increase coordination between special forces units as well as tactical skills for counterterrorism. Special purpose units from Tajikistan and China have carried out a handful of joint exercises over the past seven years, all focusing on a counterterrorism scenario, though none of them had been part of a series of exercises.[ii]
The article goes on to note that a “temporary exercise control department is being created to prepare and conduct the exercises” and that both sides will “not disclose details about the timing, location, scale, and leadership of the exercises before the start of the exercise.” It is likely that each side will release some information about future exercises after they take place, but this aspect of the agreement demonstrates how Tajikistan continues to develop a deeper partnership with China. Lastly, the article provides a reminder that China provided 55 million Chinese yuan (around $8 million) last year for a facility for Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. This new facility appears to be for Tajikistan and is not another Chinese base. Ultimately, Tajikistan’s agreement with China to carry out joint counterterrorism exercises may not appear as significant as Tajikistan’s partnership with Russia, but it does signal a more consistent effort from both sides to develop the partnership.
Mazhab Juma, “Не реже одного раза в два года. Таджикистан и Китай договариваются, как проводить антитеррористические учения (‘No fewer than one time every two years’. Tajikistan and China agreed to carry out counterterrorism exercises),” Asia-Plus (independent news website in Tajikistan), 21 November 2022.
Tajikistan intends to carry out counterterrorism exercises with China at least once every two years. The text of the agreement between the governments of Tajikistan and China, published on the information and legal portal of the (Tajik) Ministry of Justice), states that the purpose of the exercise is to strengthen and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Another goal is to increase the level of coordination between the special counterterrorism units, the level of interaction between the units, and the training and tactical skills of the two countries…
… It is also noted that a temporary exercise control department is being created to prepare and conduct the exercises… the parties will take strict secrecy measures and will not disclose details about the timing, location, scale, and leadership of the exercises before the start of the exercise.
…in October last year, the Parliament of Tajikistan approved an agreement in which China is building a special base in the Wakhan Gorge of the Gorno Badakhsahn Autonomous Oblast… The base will be built in accordance with an agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan and the Ministry of Public Security of China. “As part of the cooperation agreement between the two countries, China will provide grant assistance for the construction of the base for the rapid response team of the Organized Crime Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan…
The cost of building the base is 55 million Chinese yuan (approximately 100 million somoni)…
[i] For instance, the 2019 revelation that China had established a base in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakshan region near the Tajik-Afghan border only came out after a Western journalist had traveled to the remote region.
[ii] For more information on joint Tajik-China exercises, see: Matthew Stein, “Compendium of Central Asian Military and Security Activity,” 20 January 2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/fmso-monographs/360801
Image: Gorno-Badakhshan map
Attribution: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication