Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is becoming a bridgehead for promoting trade ties with the neighboring countries in Central Asia, according to a top regional official.
China and Kazakhstan have set up an international trade cooperation center in Horgos bordering the two countries, with each side of the border assigning 14.3 kilometers for the joint venture.
Under an agreement signed between China and Kazakhstan in September 2004, the center will be developed into a "free port" with free trade and investment, free exits and entrances for business people, along with multiple functions of processing, manufacturing, trade, merchandise procurement, finance services, tourism and entertainment.
"The port is one of the major moves in building Xinjiang into a bridgehead expanding trade ties with the central Asian countries," said Ismail Tiliwaldi, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Xinjiang borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, with a borderline extending 5,600 kilometers, which has by now set up trade ties with more than 100 countries and regions,
To be a trade center and a gateway in central Asia, Xinjiang has developed 28 trade ports along its border, which have become a long commercial corridor with the neighboring countries, the chairman said.
For instance, the Alataw Pass Port in Xinjiang has turned out to be China's second largest trading port on land, with annual cargo transport volume expected to hit 11 million tons this year.
A comprehensive economic zone integrating trade, processing, storaging and transportation has taken shape in the Alataw Pass Port area, which has witnessed exports of large quantities of Chinese-made foods, textiles, garments, shoes and chemical products as well as imports of rolled steel, crude oil and leather products from the central Asian countries.
According to Ismail Tiliwaldi, about 28 transnational companies from the world's top 500, including many from Japan, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the United States and Denmark, have shown interest in trade cooperation with Xinjiang, using it as a springboard for markets in the central Asia.
The ancient "Silk Road" has been reinvigorated. Up to date, Xinjiang has developed a comprehensive 86,000-kilometer road network, including highways linking various border ports.
Moreover, 75 highways for passenger and cargo have been built leading to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mongolia, in addition to 96 domestic and international air routes.
The central Asian countries have become an important Chinese investment destination. Chinese enterprises, mainly from Xinjiang, have so far invested 2 billion US dollars in central Asia.
(Xinhua News Agency September 23, 2005)