China is denying reports that it plans to deploy troops to Afghanistan. Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian said today that reports that hundreds of People's Liberation Army soldiers are to man a base in eastern Afghanistan are "simply not true."
China shares a narrow border with Afghanistan and is wary of the country's violence and chronic instability overflowing into its restless Xinjiang region. The top American commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, last month called the 15-year war a stalemate, raising the possibility that the U.S. and its allies could once more expand their footprint. "Beijing," Gady said, "has expressed repeated concern over the diminished Western foot print in Afghanistan."
China's foreign ministry on Wednesday dismissed a report by the South China Morning Post that cited sources with ties to the military as saying it was funding construction of a camp in Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor linking the two countries, and could send hundreds of troops there.
The Hong Kong newspaper later updated its report to quote Afghanistan's embassy in Beijing as saying China was helping the country set up a "mountain brigade" to boost counterterrorism efforts, but that there would be "no Chinese military personnel of any kind on Afghan soil at any time". However, Wu said China, like other nations, was helping Afghanistan increase its defense capabilities, particularly in the area of counterterrorism.
Wu said the two have "normal military and security cooperation." "China and the international community are all supporting Afghanistan to strengthen its defence and counterterrorism building efforts," Wu told reporters.
"At present, both sides are in communication and coordination about the relevant matter. China is willing to continue working hard with Afghanistan to jointly protect both countries and regional security and stability," Wu said.
"As for the so-called reports on China stationing forces in Afghanistan, this does not accord with the facts," he said, without elaborating.
But, reports of China increasing its security footprint in Afghanistan has become increasingly frequent over the years as the U.S. and coalition forces have failed to control the fightback from Taliban.
In January, the defence ministry dismissed a report that it planned to build a military base in Afghanistan, and it previously refuted assertions that Chinese military vehicles were patrolling in the South-Asian nation.
China has also worked with Pakistan and the United States to broker peace talks to end Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency that has raged since the militants were ousted by U.S.-backed forces in 2001.