Skip to main content

The Central Asian nodes in Belt and Road project


Atul Aneja

JUNE 22, 2019

Ahead of the recently concluded summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Chinese state media provided extensive coverage of Beijing’s recent forays into Central Asia, including into Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

On its website, the state-run Xinhua news agency splashed pictures of the Irkeshtam pass, one of China’s gateways to Kyrgyzstan, a few days before planes ferrying leaders of the eight SCO member countries, apart from observers, flew into Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital.

The lofty Irkeshtam pass, perched at a height of 2,950 m, is a geographic marvel. It is a deep gorge at the junction of the southern edge of the Tian Shan and the mighty Pamir mountains. From its impressive elevation, the pass commands several trade routes that jostle their way towards the steppes of Central Asia.

Re-imagining an ancient route

One of them weaves its way from Kashgar, a major trade node along the ancient silk route in China’s mountainous Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). This route heads westwards into the bone-dry Tarim basin.

There, the sands of the forbidding Taklamakan desert, a graveyard in the past of traders and their fellow travelers who once dared to caravan along the ancient silk road, overwhelm the area. On either side, the majestic Kunlun and the Tian Shan mountains wall the route, as it opens towards the Irkeshtam pass.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the ancient route towards the Irkeshtam pass will now provide the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a critical node into Central Asia. The CPEC runs from the Arabian Sea coast at Gwadar towards Kashgar, passing through the extremely challenging terrain of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Across the Irkeshtam border post, which straddles the pass, the road heads towards the northwest in the direction of the Kyrgyz city of Osh, 250 km away. Osh is located inside the famed Fergana valley. Its abundance of fruit and grain is legendary. The first Mughal emperor Babur, who was born in the nearby Uzbek city of Andijan, spent time in Osh, where he built a mosque atop the Sulayman mountain, a world heritage site.

The road from Osh leads westwards towards the Uzbek border, which is only 5 km away. Osh is also the fulcrum of other strategic routes that the Chinese are opening up in the region as part of the BRI. A brand new north-south motorway will soon link Osh to capital Bishkek in the north. Once the 250 km-road, being built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), is completed by 2021, the spanking new highway will connect Osh with Kazakhstan’s Almaty. Eventually, the $698-million project, bankrolled by China’s Exim Bank, will interlink Pakistan, China and Kyrgyzstan, with strategic nodes extending to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

Focussing on Osh, China’s telecom giant, Huawei Technologies, has recently unveiled an ambitious plan. In partnership with China Telecom, it plans to transform Bishkek and Osh into “smart cities”, powered by fast Internet and cyber monitoring systems.

Apart from highways and power projects, China is concentrating on railways in its bid to open up Central Asia and beyond as part of BRI. For instance, Osh sits along China’s West passage-3 railway project. After passing through Kashgar and Osh via the Irkeshtam pass, the railway spears towards Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, and beyond.

Separately, West Passage 1 enters Kazakhstan through Alashankou in Xinjiang. From there it hooks up with Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway and enters Belarus before reaching out to the European Union.

Similarly, the exit point of West Passage 2 is Xinjiang’s Alashankou. Kazakhstan, in this case, becomes the gateway to Turkmenistan, setting the stage for a railway link-up with Iran, Turkey and possibly Europe. China is also working on East Passage 1. This route connects Erenhot in its Inner Mongolia province, with the Trans-Siberian railway on the way to Europe.

All cross-border initiatives on infrastructure feed into China’s ‘go-global’ policy. This is a joint initiative of China’s central planners and provincial administrations to shift sections of Chinese capital and supply chains overseas.

(Atul Aneja is The Hindu’s Beijing correspondent.)


https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/the-central-asian-nodes-in-belt-and-road-project/article28110610.ece

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

https://www.csis.org/analysis/rise-china-europe-railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

China's Raise as a Maritime Power

China's Rise as a Maritime PowerOcean Policy from Mao Zedong to Xi JinpingTAKEDA Jun’ichiSenkaku IslandsApr 23, 2014 PDF Download1. IntroductionThe international community has been viewing China's recent moves relating to the seas as representing "maritime expansion," and the Chinese themselves have come to talk about making their country a maritime power. In the political report he delivered in the autumn of 2012 to the eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which stands at the top of the country's power structure, General Secretary Hu Jintao declared, "We should enhance our capacity for exploiting marine resources, develop the marine economy, protect the marine ecological environment, resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power."1 This was Hu's final report as the top leader of the CPC; after delivering it he stepped down from his posts as general secretary and chairm…