China has reportedly started to build a training camp in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, a narrow area that separates Tajikistan from Pakistan, in efforts to improve counterterrorism efforts in the war-torn country, says an article published by China’s South China Morning Post (Post) yesterday. .

An article entitled “China Building First Modern Military Outpost in Afghanistan to Fight Terrorism” citing the source who is familiar with the matter, says that once the base is completed, Beijing will dispatch to it hundreds of troops, amounting to at least one battalion. A battalion could consist of more than 500 soldiers, according to the Post.

The article notes that the Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of inhospitable and barely accessible land extending about 350 kilometers from the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan to China’s Muslim region of Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities have carried out sweeping crackdowns on the Uygur ethnic minority group in recent months.

It will be the first time in modern history that China has had a military presence in Afghanistan, which is known as the “graveyard of empires” for being notoriously difficult to conquer and govern, according to the article.

Song Zhongping, a military analyst based in Hong Kong, says the new base could serve as a training base to help “strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation and military exchanges between Beijing and Kabul.”

“Afghanistan is very weak on counterterrorism,” Song told the Post.  “And the authorities there are worried about a Taliban resurgence, but they can't do anything about it without help from the US, China and other countries.”

The Post's latest update on the Afghan base comes months after Wu Qian, spokesperson for China's Defense Ministry, shot down suggestions in January that a base was going to be built in Badakhshan after defense ministers from China and Afghanistan agreed in 2017 to work on fighting terrorism together. "The so-called issue that China is building a military base in Afghanistan is groundless," Wu said.

Recall, Ferghana news agency reported in January that Beijing would finance a new military base in Badakhshan after defense ministers from the two countries agreed last year to work together to fight terrorism, citing General Davlat Vaziri from Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry.