notes that the decision of Tajikistan’s authorities to connect to Chinese telecommunications networks has raised concerns among experts who believe that Chinese restrictions on the Internet will be imported into Tajikistan.

Komil Aminov, a former employee of a Dushanbe telecommunications company, reportedly says that connecting to the Chinese telecommunications system entails the following risks for Tajikistan: 1) China blocking access to various websites; 2) China’s transfer of website blocking technologies to Tajikistan .

“Technically, China has the ability to impose restrictions.  Of course, the question is whether the Chinese authorities use it or not,” the expert notes.

Tajikistan’s communications service agency did not give an explanation on this issue to the reporter.

“On the one hand, connecting to Chinese telecom networks could bring high-speed internet to Tajikistan,” said Komil Aminov.  “But the bigger concern is that the Chinese have a lot of experience in blocking websites, and they can share that experience and technology with the Tajik authorities.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Internet Policy Citizens’ Initiative Foundation, Muhammadi Ibodulloyev, said connecting to China’s telecom networks would allow Tajikistan to use it in case of force majeure, including breaking cables with the line that goes through Uzbekistan.

“It is important that the line is connected.  Later, depending on prices, traffic can be used from one or the other line. It is possible to have traffic from both lines at the same time.  If we connect the northern parts of Afghanistan to the Internet in the future, we can turn into a hub for them,” the expert said.

Both critics and supporters of connecting to China’s telecommunications network say the connection process and contracts between Dushanbe and Beijing should be transparent to eliminate existing concerns.

The main concern is that with linking up with China telecommunications network Tajikistan will import the same internet restrictions that apply in China.  China is one of the countries that has imposed strict controls on the internet.

Since 2003, this country has had a special centralized filter called the Golden Shield, also known as the Great Firewall of China.

Recall, Tajikistan on November 17 announced plans to link with China's telecommunications network in order to improve the country's Internet access as Beijing's influence in Central Asia grows.  Tajikistan has one of the slowest Internet services in the world despite improvements in recent years, with all traffic going through a center controlled by a government monopoly.  The state-run news agency Khovar reported that this move, which is taking place alongside the construction of the Dushanbe-Kulob-Darvaz-Rushan-Khorog-Kulma highway, is of utmost importance for Tajikistan’s telecommunications sector.

Tajikistan’s telecommunications companies currently purchase internet mainly from Kazakhstan. Previously, the communication line went to Tajikistan through Kyrgyzstan, but now its route goes through Uzbekistan.  In case of connection to the Chinese telecommunication network, this will be the second route to connect to the Internet.