China study­ing new Silk Road rail link to Pak­istan

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By CUI JIA

China has al­lo­cated funds to do pre­lim­i­nary re­search on build­ing an in­ter­na­tional rail­way con­nect­ing the west­ern­most city of Kash­gar in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion with Pak­istan’s deep-sea Gwadar Port on the Ara­bian Sea, ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tor of Xin­jiang’s re­gional de­vel­op­ment and re­form com­mis­sion.

“The 1,800-kilo­me­ter China-Pak­istan rail­way is planned to also pass through Pak­istan’s cap­i­tal of Is­lam­abad and Karachi,” Zhang Chun­lin said as the two-day In­ter­na­tional Sem­i­nar on the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt com­menced on Thurs­day in Urumqi, Xin­jiang’s cap­i­tal.

“Al­though the cost of con­struct­ing the rail­way is ex­pected to be high due to the hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment and com­pli­cated ge­o­graphic con­di­tions, the study of the project has al­ready started,” Zhang said.

The rail­way, which can­not avoid run­ning through the Pamir Plateau and Karako­ram Moun­tains, will be one of the hard­est to build but most vi­tal trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­tures on the China-Pak­istan cor­ri­dor along China’s newly pro­posed Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt, he added.

“China and Pak­istan will cofund the rail­way con­struc­tion. Build­ing oil and gas pipe­lines be­tween Gwadar Port and China is also on the agenda,” Zhang said.

Con­trol of Gwadar Port was given to China and an agree­ment was signed with China Over­seas Ports Hold­ing Co on May 16, 2013, to trans­fer op­er­a­tional rights from the Port Author­ity of Sin­ga­pore.

The move means China now is run­ning a port just op­po­site the Gulf of Oman, an im­por­tant route for oil tankers.

The speed of road and rail­way con­struc­tion in Xin­jiang was sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased af­ter Septem­ber 2013, when Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping raised the idea of the eco­nomic belt, Zhang said.

Xi pro­posed re­viv­ing the an­cient trade routes con­nect­ing China, Cen­tral Asia and Europe.

To be­come a trans­porta­tion hub and China’s core area on the eco­nomic belt, the govern­ment has de­cided to de­velop three main cor­ri­dors through south­ern, cen­tral and north­ern Xin­jiang, which con­nects China with Rus­sia, Europe and Pak­istan.

Work is also due to be­gin soon on the long-planned China-Kyr­gyzs­tan-Uzbek­istan rail­way.

The re­gion, which borders eight coun­tries, also plans to open three new land ports to Kyr­gyzs­tan, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia.

“We will con­sider open­ing the ports to Afghanistan and In­dia once so­cial sta­bil­ity can be en­sured. Af­ter all, open­ness is the foun­da­tion of boost­ing trade,” Zhang said.

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