All vibrant on the western front

By Chen Meiling in Kashgar | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-30 07:59
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Customers shop at Kashgar's cross-border e-commerce exhibition and trading center in Xinjiang in November. DING LEI/XINHUA

Xinjiang's south transformed by reforms into dynamic trade gateway to Central Asia, Europe

Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region's southern area is becoming a new frontier for China's opening-up, with land ports seeing a surge in cross-border cargo traffic, foreign trade companies enjoying booming business and government reforms energizing development of the local economy.

As the Belt and Road Initiative has deepened cooperation with Central Asia, more trade potential is arising in southern Xinjiang.

On Nov 1, the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone was established, covering 179.66 square kilometers and comprising three subzones in Kashgar prefecture, Urumqi and Horgos.

The new FTZ has further enhanced business confidence on top of the impressive performance of imports and exports this year, ushering in a new period of high-level opening-up.

On Nov 11, the Kashgar area of the FTZ, covering 28.48 sq km, was launched.

In Kashgar prefecture, trade has been growing rapidly this year. From January to November, imports and exports surged 80.8 percent year-on-year to reach 77.15 billion yuan ($10.87 billion), data from Kashgar Customs showed. The prefecture contributed 24.1 percent to Xinjiang's total foreign trade. Kashgar has trade links with 128 countries and regions, 90 percent of which are involved in the BRI.

Kashgar, meaning "a gathering place for jade and gemstones", has been welcoming traders from across the world for over 1,000 years. Nowadays, it still functions as an international trade and logistics hub.

It has three ports — the Khunjerab Pass to Pakistan, the Karasu Port to Tajikistan and the Kashgar Airport with six international freight flights. Neighboring Kezilesu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture has two land ports to Kyrgyzstan.

"Kashgar has strong economic complementarity with neighboring countries in terms of trade, industrial structure and resource utilization. It serves as a crucial gateway for China's western opening-up, and an international golden corridor for China to access Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Europe," said Wang Chuanjie, Party secretary and chief of Kashgar Customs.

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