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Long Chinese convoys were carrying armed Chinese Muslim servicemen through northwest China into Afghanistan to support the Taliban militia prior to today’s U.S. offensive, according to the intelligence sources of DEBKA-Net-Weekly.

The DEBKA sources report the troop strength of the Chinese columns at between 5,000 and 15,000. The first troops reportedly crossed the border Friday.

The troop movements are reported along the ancient Krakoram Road to the Afghan-Pakistani border, through the Kulik Pass of Little Pamir, which is situated in one of the highest and most remote regions of the world.

Beijing is reportedly deploying this force in two places:

1. Whakyir, the Kirgyz tribal encampment near the Little Pamir-Tadjik frontier, opposite the swelling concentration of U.S. and Russian Special Forces and air strength. The Chinese have brought with them Kirgyz fundamentalist militants from the Ferghana Valley of Central Asia, as interpreters. From Whakyir, the Chinese generals believe, with bin Laden’s and the Taliban’s tacticians, they will be able to block off the movement of the U.S.-led force from its rallying point in Dzhartygumbez, Tadjikistan, no more than 35 miles from Little Pamir, into the mountains of Hindu Kush.

2. Jalalabad in north Afghanistan, at the foot of the Hindu Kush range.
DEBKA’s Chinese sources say that, immediately after the terrorist strikes in the United States Sept. 11, the Chinese intelligence service, MSS, handed in to the defense ministry in Beijing its estimation that the U.S. would go to war to overthrow the Taliban regime, for the sake of which it would sign a pact with Russia. The Chinese leadership viewed this eventuality as the most significant shift in the global balance since the 1962 Chinese-Russian feud, with dangerous implications for China’s world standing and its interests in Central and Southwest Asia.

Beijing reportedly concluded such an alliance must be counteracted.

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