The Kunjirap Port is located within Taxkorgan Autonomous County, Kashi Prefecture. It is 130 kilometers from the county seat, 420 kilometers from Kashi and 1,890 kilometers from Urumqi. Its corresponding port is the Suster Port in Pakistan, 125 kilometers away. Kunjirap is 270 kilometers from Gilgit, the regional capital of northern Pakistan, and 870 kilometers from Islamabad.
A millennium ago, Kunjirap was an important station on the Silk Road, and today it remains a vital route for economic and cultural exchanges between China and South Asia and Europe. On August 27, 1982, the State Council approved the opening of Kunjirap Port to citizens from China and Pakistan. On May 1, 1986, it became a full international port.
Kunjirap is a seasonal port, open from May 1 to October 31 every year. It can handle 50,000 tons of commodities and 50,000 passengers each year. Tour groups may only pass through during the normal operating season, but individual travelers may exit or enter up to November 30. From December 1 to April 30, the port is open only to post, trade and special workers. Although the port handles both passengers and cargo, at present its primary business is with tour groups. Tour buses regularly ply the route between the two countries.
The new 10,000-square-meter inspection hall is equipped with water, electricity, heating and telecommunications, basically meeting the needs of port management and inspectors. Since its opening, over 560,000 visitors from more than 100 countries have passed through the port. In 2002, it processed 16,000 people, 5,500 vehicles and 30,000 tons of cargo. Trading methods have advanced from simple bartering to letters of credit, foreign currency cash payments and export cargo remit.
The opening of Kunjirap Port has substantially promoted tourism, foreign trade, commerce and transportation in Kashi Prefecture.
(China.org.cn December 15, 2004)