China has formally denied reports that it is building a military base on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border for the Afghan armed forces but Afghan security officials have confirmed the original report, and offered additional details of the secretive Chinese presence in the region, according to

In early January, reports emerged that Beijing and Kabul had come to an agreement for China to build and supply a military base in Badakhshan, the remote province of Afghanistan that borders Tajikistan and China.

But at a January 25 press briefing, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian denied those claims.  Speaking at a regular news briefing, ministry spokesman Wu Qian reportedly said that the two countries had normal security cooperation and that China like other countries was supporting Afghanistan in defense and counter-terrorism.

"The so-called issue that China is building a military base in Afghanistan is groundless," Wu said, according to Reuters

The ministry has also previously dismissed reports that Chinese military vehicles were patrolling inside Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, says several Afghan officials “denied those denials.” According to it, Ferghana news agency, which broke the original story, went back and found a number of Afghan officials who gave more detailed information about the base plans.

“As a representative of the Afghanistan Defense Ministry I again say: we and the Chinese Defense Ministry are conducting negotiations and an agreement has been reached about the construction of a military base of the Afghanistan Defense Ministry for mountain infantry in the northern province of Badakhshan,” General Davlat Waziri told Fergana.  “However, I can't say when the construction of the base will begin.”

Another Afghan MoD official, Muhammad Radmanish, reportedly reiterated: “China itself proposed construction of a mountain infantry base in this region and to take on all the expenses.”

The growing Chinese military presence in Badakhshan will necessarily draw in Tajikistan, which China has to use as a transit route.

Fergana also talked to a local government official in Bazai Gonbad, near the eastern tip of Badakhshan, populated mostly by ethnic Kyrgyz, who said that Chinese soldiers visit the village “two or three times” a month.  “They stay in the school building and sometimes give children candy and bread, but never engage in conversation,” the unnamed official said.  “The Chinese soldiers enter Afghanistan territory through neighboring Tajikistan because there's no direct road from China.”

That account was confirmed by reporters from AFP, who visited the region in October (but only published their report on February 3).  “'The Chinese army first came here last summer and they were accompanied by the Afghan army,' said Abdul Rashid, a Kyrgyz chief, adding that he had seen vehicles flying Chinese flags,” AFP reported.

Rashid's account was confirmed by other Kyrgyz, including another chief Jo Boi, who said the Chinese military spent almost a year in Wakhan before leaving in March 2017.