China reportedly is considering the deployment of military personnel to Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield following the U.S. departure from the Taliban-controlled nation after two decades.
“The Chinese military is currently conducting a feasibility study about the effect of sending workers, soldiers and other staff related to its foreign economic investment program known as the Belt and Road Initiative in the coming years to Bagram, according to a source briefed on the study by Chinese military officials,” U.S. News and World Report said Tuesday.
The information does not indicate immediate development, but “rather a potential deployment as long as two years from now,” the report said.
“If the Taliban requests Chinese assistance, I think China will be inclined to send human support. Most likely, they will frame it as technical support or logistic support,” Sun said, according to U.S. News.
“There are precedents of that regarding foreign military bases. But a Chinese takeover is unlikely,” he added.
So far, Chinese leaders have denied the report.
“I can tell you this is purely fake news,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, according to a Stars and Stripes report Tuesday.
“I think you are going to see China make a move for Bagram Air Force Base,” former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last week, according to the report.
“I think they are also making a move in Afghanistan and trying to use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India,” she added.
U.S. forces reportedly left Afghanistan’s Bagram airfield during the night in July without telling the location’s new Afghan commander, according to Afghan military leaders.
“We [heard] some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani said, according to The Associated Press.
The report said the U.S. military left behind about 3.5 million items, according to Kohistani, including tens of thousands of bottles of water, energy drinks and military ready-made meals.
The U.S. also left behind thousands of civilian vehicles, without keys, and hundreds of armored vehicles.
According to the BBC, Bagram also includes a prison, and up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners were left in the facility.
The U.S. departure marked the end of nearly 20 years of military presence at the airfield following 9/11.
The site later fell to the control of the Taliban. The radical group now controls the nation and is establishing its interim government.
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