China plans to set up an anti-terrorism alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan to boost its coordination with its neighbours, stabilize the region and prevent it from becoming a domestic militant threat, the state media said on Thursday.
Fang Fenghui, a member of the powerful Central Military Commission, hosted a meeting with his counterparts on Wednesday in Urumqi, the capital of the western Xinjiang region to discuss the challenges they are facing to battle the Islamist militants.
The official Xinhua news agency said the four nations recognized the serious threat of terrorism and extremism and agreed to form a "four-country mechanism" for intelligence sharing and training.
"All parties reaffirmed they will cooperate to respond to these forces, and safeguard all member countries' peace and stability," Xinhua reported.
The news agency said the Afghan army chief of general staff, General Qadam Shah Shaheem, Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif, and the Chief of General Staff of the Tajikistan armed forces, Major General E. A. Cobidrzoda participated in the meeting.
The new alliance known as the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism comes soon after China's defense minister thanked Afghanistan's Shaheem earlier this week, for supporting the fight against the Islamist group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
China has been battling this group in its Muslim-dominant, oil-rich region of Xinjiang near the country's border with Pakistan for quite some time.
The United States and the United Nations have listed ETIM as a terrorist group although some experts have questioned its involvement.
China is working closely with Pakistan and the United States to organise peace talks to end a Taliban insurgency that has raged for 15 years in Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Afghanistan both have already faced violence from Islamist militant groups including al-Qaeda and the Taliban for more than a decade, while Tajikistan has been the victim of its own Islamist militants.