Lake threatens Chinese-Kazakh Khorgos trade center

February 01. Universal Newswires

Lake threatens Chinese-Kazakh Khorgos trade centerA mass of unstable debris blocking upstream Khorgos River threatens to destroy the Khorgos transnational free trade center on the Kazakh-Chinese border, a senior Kazakh official said on Wednesday.

Kazakh Minister of Emergencies Vladimir Bozhko gave that assessment to the ministry board meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana following research of the upper heights of the river.

“An expedition to the headwaters of the Khorgos River achieved an alarming result,” Bozhko said. “The significant degradation of glaciers resulted in the formation of a moraine lake, which we have called ‘kapkan’ [trap], with a water volume of more than a million cubic meters (mcm).”

“This lake is a big threat to Khorgos International Center of Border Cooperation,” the minister said.

Kazakh authorities are currently working on plans and designs of structures to protect the border facilities in case the dam breaks, he said.

The 92-mile Khorgos River rises in the Aktas, an offshoot of the Tian Shan Mountains, and forms a boundary between east Kazakhstan and northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The vaunted Khorgos center has been bedeviled with problems and delays. Trial operations were to have begun in December 2011 after missing September and July deadlines.

China blames Kazakhstan on falling behind construction schedules on its side of the border, while the two sides have bickered over trade policies.

Construction of the Kazakh-Chinese venture began in 2006.

The border facility is expected to expand two-way trade in the near term, while opening up a transcontinental corridor linking China and Europe in the longer term.