Libmonster ID: CN-1204
Author(s) of the publication: Z. M. KURBONOVA

Z. M. KURBONOVA (Tajikistan)

After the declaration of sovereignty, the Republic of Tajikistan (RT) faced the problem of unresolved border issues. First of all, this applied to the border with the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Tajikistan inherited its territorial differences with China from the Soviet Union. Following the principle of succession adopted in international practice, Tajikistan undertook to establish the state border in those areas that were "disputed", and sometimes caused armed clashes and conflicts with China in Soviet times.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a joint delegation of Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan was formed to negotiate with the PRC on border issues. An intergovernmental agreement on its establishment was signed by the Prime Ministers of these states in Minsk in September 1992. The document confirmed the previously reached agreements and principles of negotiations between the USSR delegation and the PRC. It also provided for the adoption by the Governments of each country of a resolution "On measures to ensure negotiations on border issues with the People's Republic of China". New States have appointed their own representatives to the delegation. The procedure for developing positions and approaches for conducting negotiations was determined, and a financial fund with equal participation of the parties was created.1

In their work, the Tajik part of the delegation was guided by the Declaration on the Foundations of Friendly Relations between Tajikistan and the People's Republic of China, signed in October 1993 in Beijing. Article 13 of this document states:: "The parties confirm the agreements previously reached in the Soviet-Chinese negotiations on border issues and will continue to discuss unresolved issues on the basis of agreements on the current border between the two countries, in accordance with generally recognized norms of international law, in the spirit of equal consultations, mutual understanding and mutual compliance, in order to find mutually acceptable, fair and rational solutions to these issues. solutions " 2.

Dushanbe's statement confirming earlier agreements reached at the Soviet-Chinese talks was a fundamentally important moment that determined the trusting and constructive atmosphere of the further negotiation process with Beijing.

In order to develop positions for conducting negotiations on border issues with the PRC, a working group was established as part of the joint delegation by order of the Government of Tajikistan. It included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, border troops, the Department of Geodesy and Cartography, local authorities of border regions, and employees of archives and scientific institutions were involved as experts.

The group was tasked with collecting and analyzing materials related to disputed land plots. A large volume of documents related not only to the passage of the border line, but also related to natural resources, cultural heritage, and the development of land plots in agricultural and industrial relations was studied.

The difficulty was that many of the materials were classified and were located in Moscow, but in these cases colleagues from the Russian Foreign Ministry and other Russian institutions provided assistance.

The goal of the border negotiations with China was to quickly agree on the disputed sections of the border, their legal registration and preparation for demarcation.

The length of Tajikistan's border with China is 496 km. There were three uncoordinated sections within the republic: No. 17 - the Markansu River area, No. 18 - the Karazak Pass area, and No. 19-the Greater Pamir area, south of the Uz-Bel Pass3.


Since 1989, in order to create a belt of good-neighborliness and cooperation, stability and security along the perimeter of the borders between the former USSR and China, negotiations on confidence-building measures in the military field have been held in parallel within the framework of a joint delegation.

page 42

In April 1996, in Shanghai, the heads of five states - Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China-signed an agreement on strengthening military confidence-building measures in the border area (entered into force on May 7, 1998), and a year later, in April 1997, in Moscow - an agreement on mutual reduction of armed forces in the border area (entered into force on August 6, 1999).

These two documents were the first such military-political documents on the Asian continent.

During the implementation of the Shanghai Agreement, which was originally intended to help resolve border issues, the "Shanghai Five" was formed, which, in turn, was transformed into a regional structure - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

However, the parties did not limit themselves to this area of five-sided cooperation, but unanimously decided to continue the process of interaction, extending it both to economic cooperation and to joint counteraction to organized crime, international terrorism, religious extremism, drug and arms trafficking and other forms of crime.

One of the SCO's main achievements has been to ease tensions along the border with China, including the creation of demilitarized zones 100 km deep on both sides, where mutual military inspections are conducted.

The interaction of the five states was a significant confirmation of the ability to solve problems related to building confidence and reducing military confrontation. The agreements signed in Shanghai and Moscow that marked the beginning of the SCO's activities have no precedent in world diplomacy. They are of great practical value, if only because they serve as a guarantee of stability in the region.

In the course of further negotiations, political decisions were made that contributed to confidence-building in the military field. However, the solutions were not always easy. First of all, this concerned the main topic of the negotiations-determining the maximum levels of personnel, weapons and military equipment remaining in the 100 km-deep zone. In the future, the issues of reducing and limiting military contingents, data exchange, control and inspections were discussed. Beijing agreed with the proposals of its negotiating colleagues regarding the limit levels.

In the end, these agreements provided an opportunity for border countries to start negotiations on a broader range of issues related to security in the vast territory of Eurasia.

The Shanghai and Moscow Agreements, as well as the mechanism of the joint control group established within the framework of the agreements, are the legal guarantor of good neighborliness of the peoples of the five states. Both agreements, as noted by Western experts, have become a model in resolving border disputes, strengthening security and ensuring stability in Central Asia.4


Following the results of five-sided negotiations and bilateral consultations of the Foreign Ministries of Tajikistan and China in August 1999, the two heads of state signed an agreement "On the Tajik-Chinese state border" 5 (however, the section No. 19 located "south of the Uz-Bel Pass" was included in the agreement with a special status, according to which the parties agreed to continue negotiations).

With the signing of this document, Tajikistan for the first time legally consolidated its external borders with its eastern neighbor on an international legal basis.

It cannot be said that the decision on two previously uncoordinated sections-N 17 and N 18-was some unexpected impromptu. The options were discussed in a working order even within the framework of the joint delegation.

Previously, the territories of both sites were repeatedly surveyed by Tajik experts. It turned out that there was no permanent population living on them, no industrial reserves of minerals were identified, and economic activity was practically not carried out.

The study of the areas subject to approval was quite complete, and decisions on the regulation of the border line in these areas were made in Dushanbe, based on a fairly solid factual and information base.

Representatives of the border regions participated in the development of the proposals of the Tajik expert group, with whom the decisions taken were coordinated. Subsequently, the agreements reached were recorded in a joint protocol record with the Chinese, drawing the agreed border line on maps.

After the signing of the 1999 agreement, the issue of clarifying the border line in the section "south of the Uz-Bel pass"remained.

For the first two disputed sections, the Tajik side, defending its vision of the border crossing, could give well-reasoned arguments concerning gaps in their description and in cartographic materials of that time, various interpretations and inaccuracies in certain texts of treaty documents in Russian and Chinese. However, on the third disputed area, the Tajik delegation lacked some legal arguments.

For some time, both Dushanbe and Beijing stubbornly defended their position on the "uncoordinated section", but showed flexibility, not going beyond the fundamental conditions of the border settlement and sharing the opinion that it is necessary to speed up the resolution of this issue by joint efforts.

The negotiation process lasted until 2002 (as you know, China claimed a significant part of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region). Given the difficult internal political situation in Tajikistan in those years, Beijing did not force a final decision on the issue of border crossing.

Nevertheless, the political expediency and political will of the leaders of Tajikistan and China gave a positive impetus to the settlement of the unresolved border problem.

After repeated intergovernmental consultations over a number of years, it was possible to-

page 43

to reach a mutually acceptable decision on the line of border crossing at the 19th section in the Greater Pamir region. A draft Supplementary Agreement between the Republic of Tajikistan and the People's Republic of China on the Tajik-Chinese state border was prepared. On May 17, 2002, this document was signed by President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon* and President of the People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin 6.


The settlement of the last "uncoordinated section" between Tajikistan and China in the Greater Pamir region was the final act in resolving more than 200 years of disagreements on border issues between the Russian and Chinese empires, the USSR and the PRC, and Tajikistan and China. The current line of the state border between Tajikistan and China, legally formalized by the Supplementary Agreement of 2002, has been ratified by the parliaments of both countries.

The signing of this document is of historical significance. It was a great achievement of Tajik diplomacy, taking into account that even at the beginning of the negotiation process, Beijing firmly insisted on the full transfer of "disputed" areas under its jurisdiction, referring to documentary data and cartographic materials.

In order to complete the international legal registration of the border and in accordance with Article 4

Agreement between the Republic of Tajikistan and the People's Republic of China on the Tajik-Chinese state border, the parties have started its demarcation. A joint commission was formed to carry out this work.

Demarcation work started in July 2006. During three favorable summer months, the sides established 45 border posts along the border (22-Tajik side, 23 - Chinese side). In 2007 - another 43 (21 and 22, respectively). In July 2008, the border demarcation was completed.

Experts from the two countries will devote 2009 to working with documents and maps. They will have to reflect its results on paper, create maps, prepare a lot of documents, two of which must be signed at the highest level.

Full resolution of border issues meets the fundamental interests of Tajikistan and China, increases the level of trust between the two states, and contributes to strengthening security in the state border area. It will also encourage the development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation and allow Tajikistan to start implementing socio-economic projects in the border area.

For China, the settlement of border problems with Tajikistan also seems to be important. Beijing has demonstrated to the world community its ability and willingness to address them in a constructive and civilized manner, thereby breaking down the established stereotypes about the impregnable Asian "dragon" 7.

It should be noted that Tajikistan has not yet managed to resolve border issues with all its neighbors, so the settlement of the problem with the PRC is gaining political and practical significance. At a time when the world is shaken by small and large conflicts, when there is a lack of confidence in the possibilities of peace negotiations, Tajikistan has proved their viability and there is no alternative.

Amanzholoea Z. A., Atanov M. M., Turarbekov B. Sh 1 The truth about the state border of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Almaty, Publishing House "Zhibek Zholy", 2006, p. 43-49.

2 Joint Declaration on Basic Principles of Relations between the Republic of Tajikistan and the People's Republic of China of March 9, 1993

3 Tajikistan - China. Collection of Basic Documents (1992-2007). Beijing, Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, 2008.

Anderson John. 4 The International Politics of Central Asia. Manchester University Press, 1997, p. 17 - 23.

5 Agreement between the Republic of Tajikistan and the People's Republic of China "On the Tajik-Chinese State Border" of August 13, 1999.

Рахмонов Э. Ш. 6 Точикистон: хазор сол дар як умр. Dushanbe, Irfon Publ., 2003, pp. 157-165.

7 Reference on the state and prospects of development of Tajik-Chinese relations. Materials of the current archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2006-2008.

* This is how - since 22.03.2007 - the surname of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan is written (before-Rakhmonov. - Author's note).


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Z. M. KURBONOVA, TAJIKISTAN - CHINA: ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE BORDER // Beijing: China (ELIBRARY.ORG.CN). Updated: 20.07.2023. URL: (date of access: 15.06.2024).

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