Pic: A train numbered 9001 is ready to leave Khorgos for Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, June 8 (Photo by Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his ongoing state visit to Kazakhstan, inspected via videolink two key hubs of the cross-border transportation on Thursday along with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev at the Chinese national pavilion of the Expo 2017 in Astana.
The two projects are the logistics center in China’s eastern city of Lianyungang and a dry port in Khorgos, a city in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region bordering Kazakhstan.
The two heads of state also pushed a lever to launch four freight trains at a parallel session of the 2017 World Expo.
In September 2004, China and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to jointly build a cross-border cooperation center at the port of Khorgos. The 5.28-square-kilometer center is unique in the world as it spans lands of both countries. In 2012, the center started operation.
The two countries place high expectations on Khorgos, an important junction along the Silk Road and vital stop of China-Europe freight trains.
Ravil Budukov, Kazakh chief manager of the international department with the Khorgos International Center of Boundary Cooperation, said he saw the place rise from nothing to an international trade center over the past 5 years.
Offering various services such as processing and manufacturing, cargo transshipment, finance and recreation, the place now acts as a demonstration zone to promote economic and trade exchanges among the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries, Ravil said.
“The port, as an important pivot, has brought prosperity to Asia-Europe cross-border transportation as I have eyed,” he added.
A new city under Kazakhstan’s new economic policy of the “Bright Road” is planned to be built. “A big city with a population of 100,000 people was beyond my imagination five years ago,” Ravil disclosed.
Drastic changes have taken place in infrastructure, cross-border personnel exchanges and logistics handling capacity. In 2012, an average of 300 people arrived in China via Khorgos, while the number reached 81,000 this April, Ravil disclosed.
In addition to the increase of cross-border personnel exchanges, cross-border logistics has increased greatly as well. In the past, highroad is the only transportation means with limited covering region, but now, there are 17 China-Europe freight trains passing Khorgos at regular intervals.
“In 2016, trains transshipped cargo at the port surpassed 1,000. The whole procedure of reloading and customs clearance can be completed within 55 minutes,” Ravil said.
The cooperation center has provided almost 5,000 job positions, which is likely to rise to 10,000 in future, Ravil said. Shopping at the cooperation center has become a habit for some Kazakhs. Every day, trains and buses will carry shoppers from large and medium-sized cities to the cooperation center, he added.
Ravil is full of confidence that Khorgos will become a modern special economic zone like Shenzhen.
“Khorgos is rich in human resources, second-mover advantages and enjoys big markets in China and Kazakhstan, therefore, the Khorgos -Eastern Gate special economic zone centered on dry port, logistics center and industrial park is bound to be a success,” Ravil said, adding that the place will present a brand-new look when the Kazakh industrial park is completed in 2021.
By Zhou Hanbo, Xie Yahong from People’s Daily