Memos from Asia

Why China Claims 45% Territory of Tajikistan

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Tajikistan is struggling to pay back its debt to China. The vast amount of loans may significantly reduce the territories of the Republic. The pressure of the Chinese government on Tajikistan is continuing since the 1990s when Beijing reviewed its borders with Central Asian countries.

Tajikistan owes the largest amount of its foreign debts to China. As of 2019, the amount of debt was about 1.2 billion USD, which is nearly half of the total external loans. (Radio Liberty)

The claim of China is the Pamir Region, which makes 45% of the country.

Did China claim the land first time?

It is not the first time that China claims the land of Tajikistan. In 1999, Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan, gave 200 square km of land to China. The new territories of China became a part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Republic.

After 3 years, the Tajik President visited China and offered to cede another 1,000 square km more land.

In January 2011, the parliament of Tajikistan ratified the agreement to give part of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. Due to the deal of giving 1.1 square km of land in the region, the People’s Republic agreed to cancel an extensive amount of Tajik debt. (Azon Uz)

What is stopping China so far?

China tried to get control of the different parts of Tajik lands in 1992-1993. However, a civil war in Tajikistan prevented Beijing to increase the territory of China. Also, Russia is the rival of China in Central Asia. Moscow also wants to expand its control and power in the region. Hence, China could not take all the claiming land from Tajikistan by this time.

However, all Central Asian countries: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan owe a large sum of money to China. It enhances the power of China in the region.

What happens If Tajikistan could not pay its debt?

According to the regulations, the external debt of Tajikistan should not exceed 40% of the GDP. As of 2019, it became 38.9%, which is very close to the limit. Tajikistan should pay off the debt. Otherwise, it may repay the debt in terms of natural resources or take new loans to pay old debts. Also, Tajikistan may lose 45% of its land in the future to repay the debt to China. (Cabar Asia)

What attracts China to Tajikistan?

Tajikistan is a highly mountainous country. Mountains cover nearly 93% of the country. China claims the Pamir region, which makes up about 45% of Tajikistan. However, the only land could not attract so much attention and pressure from Beijing. (Loc Gov).

The major reason is mineral resources. When the Soviet Union controlled Tajikistan, they found large mines of uranium, gold, and several other valuable minerals there. China can use high concentration salts in the mountain lakes. These salts are highly valuable because China uses them in the modern industry. (Yandex)

Reaction of the society

Citizens of Tajikistan is not happy to give the part of the country to China. Especially, this part makes up 45% of the country. The Parliament approved the deal in 2011. However, Tajik people heard the news after Chinese newspapers wrote about the agreement. (Azon Uz)

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