Multiple unconfirmed reports about Chinese ‘military’ planes landing at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan have circulated on social media and mainstream headlines for the past few days.
While these reports were denied by the Taliban, others believe that even if it isn’t true yet, it will be soon enough.
Back in business at Bagram
Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center think tank, is one of those who see this event as entirely plausible. In early September, Yun told U.S. News, “Given their past experience, the Chinese must be eager to get their hands on whatever the U.S. has left at the base.”
Once word of that assumption made it to China, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, denied the idea that China plans to overtake Bagram and use it for their own interests in the region.
In that same U.S. News article, an anonymous source working closely with the Chinese government stated that the country is “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.”
This means that the centrifugal point for moving forward with the Belts and Roads Initiative in Afghanistan would be, somewhat ironically, located at the United States’ former mainstay in the nation.
This leaves only the assumption that, alongside the infrastructure enhancements which are the driving factor for why the Belts and Roads Initiative exists in the first place, there would be a Chinese military presence that is concurrent to those other initiatives.
Only time will tell whether a Chinese military presence becomes normalized, or even the case, in Afghanistan. The one sure thing is that the relationship between these two nations is steadily progressing, regardless of where it may end up.