Old Town attracts new entrepreneurial spirit

By Cui Jia | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-12 08:59
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A woman dances on a street in the Old Town. ZHAO GE/XINHUA

An ancient settlement is thriving in the wake of renovation work. Cui Jia reports from Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

When Mardan Ablimit opened a coffee shop in the Old Town of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in 2018, many people warned him that his venture was unrealistic and bound to fail.

Now, the 34-year-old is considering opening branches outside the region and exporting a taste of Kashgar nationwide after the coffee shop successfully integrated with the Old Town and became part of local people's lives.

Mardan said the 4-square-kilometer Old Town, which has a history of more than 2,000 years, is "the birthmark of Kashgar" in southern Xinjiang. The traditional Uygur architecture and culture are well-preserved around the neighborhood and by its 43,000-plus residents, 97 percent of whom are members of the Uygur ethnic group.

"The Old Town has been a window into Kashgar ever since the city was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. It has never stopped embracing new things and ideas," said Mardan as he sat in Kashgar Corner, his coffee shop.

"By having a cup of Kashgar Corner Special, made with coffee and traditional Uygur herbs and presented in a mug handmade by Uygur pottery craftsmen in the Old Town, I hope visitors will see both the traditional and modern sides of Kashgar."

In the past, the area's people and fragile old buildings were threatened by the risk of fire and earthquakes.

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