Century-old land port in NW China border aims for further development

Sep 28. People’s Daily

Century-old land port in NW China border aims for further developmentHorgos city in northwestern China has been designated as a special economic zone, which means that the bustling port will serve as a bridgehead of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and elsewhere in China to open more toward the West. In this perspective, it will be an assembly and processing base for export products, an imports and exports distribution center, a major logistics thoroughfare and an international trade center.

The blueprint was made at a work conference of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on the Xinjiang region held in Beijing from May 17 to 19 this year.

Horgos means “a very ideal place for grazing” in Mongolian language. It was a post house of vital importance on the world-famous Silk Road back in the imperial Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) period. In 1881, it became a trading port between China and Tsarist Russia. With a suspension of more than 10 centuries, the land port, reopened in Nov. 1983, has now been turned into a top class highway port with a biggest, comprehensive passenger handling capacity and the shortest distance to cities in Central Asia.

A group of visitors from Hong Kong was seen entering Horgos port with the arrival of mini buses in a mid-day recently, and a Hong Kong business woman named Wu Yufen went straight to its trading center, where varied commodities were available, such as tanned hides from Russia, perfume from Kazakhstan, and spaghetti from Italy and other exquisite delicacies and commodities.

“Kazakhstan has a great business opportunity,” claimed a Uighur man named Akremu, who was going through custom procedures, and he said has had earned an income of one or two million Yuan (some 150,000 to 300,000 US dollars) a year since he started his business at the Port in 1996. Goods manufactured in China and Kazakhstan have their distinct hallmarks and sold well on each other’s markets, he noted, and there are likely more business opportunities due to new policies issued by China’s central authorities and he would like to open a trade company there next year.

Relevant data show that Horgos, with a regular resident population of 15,000, now has a daily flow of close to 10,000 migrating people coming and going out of the city. It reported an import and export trade volume of 998 million US dollars from January to August 2010.

Two cooperation projects involved in the China-Kazakhstan International border Cooperation Center laid the foundation stone in mid-September, which represents the first cross-border economic zone with a combined area of 5.28 square kilometers China had ever built via joint efforts with other countries; it is also the first plot to experiment with regional economic cooperation under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Along with the China-Kazakhstan border river and linked by a special passage, the 5.28-sq-km border cooperation center is composed of two component areas: one area on the Chinese side covers 3.43 sq km, and the other is an area of 1.85 sq km under the management of Kazakhstan.

According to Liang Xinyuan, director of the Horgos Port Administration, the cooperation center, whose construction had begun in 2007, would take on a special administrative or managerial mode, including not to set up border inspection agencies; citizens of China, Kazakhstan and any third country and their vehicles and commodities can stay visa-free for up to 30 days. Moreover, the Chinese government has issued more preferential policies for the cooperation center and, when passengers enter the Chinese territory, they can bring in the duty-free goods worth 8,000 yuan (about 1,170 US dollars).

With the upcoming completion and going into service of railroads to Kazakhstan that link Horgos, the docking of an expressway linking China and Kazakhstan and construction of Central Asia-China gas pipelines, Horgos will surely become the continental transportation hub to Central Asia and Europe.