Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon.
Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon.

China will provide Tajikistan with $230 million to build a new parliament, authorities in the impoverished state said on Wednesday, the latest step by Beijing to bolster its influence in the country.

China, which already owns over half of Tajikistan's public debt, has long sought to increase ties in the ex-Soviet Central Asia region which Moscow has traditionally viewed as its backyard.

Construction of the parliament is expected to begin later this year and the money has been "allocated by the Chinese side," Tajik official Jamshed Akhmadzoda said.

China is a vital source of investments in mainly agrarian Tajikistan, which is also strongly dependent on remittances sent home by migrant workers in Russia.

Beijing owns some $1.2 billion of the country's total external debt of $2.3 billion, a share equal to around a sixth of GDP.

Strategically located on the border of China's restive Xinjiang province and conflict-wracked Afghanistan, Tajikistan is the poorest of the former ex-Soviet republics.

That has however not stopped authorities under strongman ruler Emomali Rahmon from splashing out on a string of lavish projects, including a super-sized library and what was once the world's tallest flagpole.

For the most part, Chinese economic assistance to Tajikistan has targeted key infrastructure projects including roads and railways linking the republic's north and south.

Last October, China stepped up its security footprint in the country of 8.5 million people by staging bilateral military exercises close to the porous 1,300-kilometre border with Afghanistan.

Source: AFP