VOA News com: Pakistani Mountain Town Looks to Cash In on China Trade|3,000 kilometers to Pakistan’s Gwadar port through Karakorum Highway

Khunjerab border crossing and the first Chinese security post seen on the extreme right.Khunjerab border crossing and the first Chinese security post seen on the extreme right.

China and Pakistan opened this spectacular mountain pass for tourism and limited trade back in the 1980s. The Khunjerab Pass, the world’s highest paved border crossing, is located at an elevation of more than 4,600 meters and closes for four months each year because of snow.

But this remote highway could become the linchpin of a $46 billion effort to develop trade routes that Islamabad hopes could revive its economy and boost employment, and Beijing hopes will give it a new trade route to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, investment has been hailed as a “game-changer” for Pakistan, roughly equaling all of the foreign direct investment into the country since 1970.

The money will build infrastructure aimed at allowing Chinese trade convoys to travel 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway, snaking past snow-capped ranges hosting some of the highest mountains on Earth, down to central Pakistan and finally to the deep-water Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, where ships then take the freight to markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese investment are aimed at constructing energy projects, building roads and rail networks, and laying modern communication lines along the CPEC route, which analysts say could mean the creation of upward of 700,000 direct jobs over the next 15 years. It will also enable China to cut drastically cut transport times for its international trade, reducing dependability on routes through the South China Sea.

The new Silk Road

The ambitious effort will effectively re-create the ancient Silk Road that for centuries linked Asia to the rest of the world.

Karakorum Highway snake pasts some of the highest mountains on earth.

Karakorum Highway snake pasts some of the highest mountains on earth.

Khunjerab means “Valley of Blood,” which locals attribute to the bandits who once preyed on caravans on what used to be one of the main crossing points on the Silk Road.

About 90 kilometers from the border crossing is Pakistan’s northernmost town, Sost, which is now often referred to as China’s new gateway to the Arabian Sea. It hosts a dry port to handle the few trucks transporting commercial goods from the Chinese city of Kashgar.

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