Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and China have pledged to work together against the scourge of Islamist terrorism.
China is particularly concerned about the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, where separatist extremists have been blamed for a series of attacks dating back to 2014.
Military leaders from the countries met last week and announced the formation of an alliance called the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism to counter terror in the region.
China is particularly concerned with the expansion of Islamic State activities in neighboring Afghanistan and the ability of the group to provide arms and inspiration to China’s Uighur Muslims, a mostly Sunni, Turkic-speaking minority in China's northwestern Xinjiang province.
"China wants to make sure Uighur militants do not have sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing wants this issue to be part of the negotiations," said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a Kabul University lecturer who recently met with a Taliban delegation in Qatar. Zaland was speaking to the news outlet DW.
China feels a reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban will stabilize the region, particularly Afghanistan. In terms of Pakistan, China views its relationship with the important country as a challenge to the U.S.
"Obviously, the Chinese want to challenge the American hegemony in the region and this looks like their stamp of authority on some sensitive matters," commented Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general and security expert, speaking to the DPA news agency.
Other analysts point to economics as the real reason for the cooperation. "China's primary goal for its increased involvement in the Afghan peace process is to secure its economic interests in the region," Zaland said.
China signed $46 billion in deals with Pakistan last year alone. In addition, China began work on an ambitious project dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which consists of roads, railways and pipelines connecting western China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
China is currently engaged in a colossal project to build a “new Silk Road” connecting Europe to China with modern state of the art transport infrastructure. The project features a maritime route and a land route, which travels through central Asia and the Middle East to Europe.
Terrorism is disruptive to this grand project.
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