China planning New Silk Road

China is planning a "New Silk Road" at a cost of USD 660 million.

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2011, 17:17 PM IST

Beijing: China is planning a "New Silk
Road" at a cost of USD 660 million that will run through
Central Asia and continue into Europe, crossing the Pamir
Plateau, to facilitate improved transport and trade.

The road connecting Kashgar in Xinjiang province with
Erkeshtam, a border point of central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan
will complement a planned "Silk Track" railway that will also
boost connections with Europe and the countries in between,
officials and experts have confirmed, official China Daily
reported.

Officials of the Xinjiang highway administration said
construction will soon start on a 213-km expressway which was
expected to be ready by September 2013.
The project, which is likely to cost 4.3 billion yuan
(USD 660 million), is being described as the first expressway
to cross the Pamirs Plateau and offers access to Central Asia.

Ju Chengzhi, director of the international affairs
department at the Ministry of Transport, told China Daily the
soon-to-be-built Kashgar-Erkeshtam expressway is a section of
the proposed new link between Asia and Europe.

He said the route within China will start in
Lianyungang, in East China`s Jiangsu province, and travel
through Xi`an, in Northwest China`s Shaanxi province, before
reaching the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The proposed route will continue through Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, before
heading into Europe, he added.

"The route will link China with major countries in
Central Asia, Western Asia and Europe. It will pass these
countries` administrative centers, major cities and
resource-producing areas," he said.

According to Ju, China has also proposed two other
road connections between China and Europe - one going via
Kazakhstan and Russia and the other going through Kazakhstan
and via the Caspian Sea.

Experts said barriers - including technical ones and
issues connected to taxation and customs - are the reason why
almost all of China`s exported goods to Europe are transported
by sea.

Even goods from Xinjiang, Gansu and Inner Mongolia are
currently sent east by rail to China`s ports before they are
shipped to Europe.

China`s trade with Central Asian countries has grown
nearly 50 times in the 17 years between 1992 and 2008,
according to a report by Xinhua News Agency in 2009.

The report said the trading turnover between China and
the five Central Asian countries was USD 527 million back in
1992 but had increased to USD 25.2 billion by 2008.

To facilitate communications and trade, China is
also advocating a rail link that would start from the Xinjiang
Uygur autonomous region in China and pass through Tajikistan,
Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan before arriving in Iran, according
to Iranian officials.

The railway would then be divided into two routes -
one of which would lead to Turkey and Europe.

PTI