The city is not a fictitious place from a fairytale, but a real city, located along the Belt and Road, has a vision to create a land and sea corridor that allows commercial, cultural, and idea exchanges, as it once did when it was part of the ancient Silk Road.
A Border City’s Economic Takeoff
The name of this city is Horgos. A county-level city of Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, it sits right on the border with Kazakhstan. Although it is a small place of tens of thousands of people, especially when compared to some of China’s megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing, which all boast tens of millions of permanent inhabitants, its importance cannot be overlooked. Over the past decade, Horgos has literally risen out of the grassland to become a logistics and trade center and one of the largest land terminals for cargo transportation in Eurasia. For this purpose, a series of projects have been launched, with new buildings, roads, companies, and other types of infrastructure erected to support the land port.
As a result, people have been arriving in Horgos in successive waves. They have not only come from other parts of Xinjiang, but also from all over China. In addition, Horgos is a place that has seen the blending and integration of various ethnic groups, including Uygur, Mongolian, Kazak, Hui, and Han, which has given the city a particular stamp.
The Horgos railway station started the China- Europe freight train service in March 2016. Since then, the number of trains passing through the cargo terminal has been increasing. During the most critical moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, it directly contributed to the transportation of material and medical supplies from China to the West. Meanwhile, a passenger train route was launched in June 2017, connecting China and Kazakhstan, the second between the two countries.
As a result, in 2020 nearly 5,000 freight trains left China passing through the Horgos railway terminal, bringing the volume of goods up to more than 3.68 million tons. Meanwhile, during the first quarter of 2021, 1,493 trains passed through the terminal, with a cargo volume of 2.004 million tons, which represents a year-on-year increase of 76.9 percent and 103.9 percent respectively.
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