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Saturday, July 12, 2014, 11:46

New Xinjiang border city of Horgos gets green light

By Cui Jia and Gao Bo in Urumqi
 New Xinjiang border city of Horgos gets green light
People talk business at a trading center in the Horgos Special Economic Zone in May. The zone and two nearby townships will be part of a new city, to be called Horgos, that was approved by the State Council recently. (Han Chen / China News Service)

The State Council has approved the construction of a new city on the border between China and Kazakhstan in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to serve as an international trade and logistics hub, a local official said on Friday.

Work on the new city of Horgos has already begun. When completed, it will cover 1,970 square kilometers, including the 73 sq km existing Horgos Special Economic Zone, said Yang Jun, deputy director of the zone.

Approval was granted on June 29, though Yang said the proposal was first filed in 2010. He said he believes the idea to create the Silk Road Economic Belt added fresh urgency to the plan.

The Horgos Special Economic Zone includes the Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, which provides cross-border tariff exemptions for Chinese companies as well as duty-free shopping for tourists. Totaling 3.43 sq km in Xinjiang and 1.85 sq km in Kazakhstan, the center also serves as an industrial innovation park and cross-border logistics hub.

Horgos port has become the largest land port in northwestern China. Last year, trade volume at the port reached 22 million metric tons. Its history goes back to the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618), when the port was part of the Silk Road trade routes.

"Besides the special economic zone, two nearby townships will also be under the administration of the new city, which will be built in both Asian and European styles," Yang said. "After Horgos becomes a city, it can be included in the overall planning of the central government and receive direct funding for infrastructure construction."

Shen Junli, a professor at Xinjiang Administrative College, said that it exemplifies a breakthrough in the development of Xinjiang's economy and that a local government with a fully functional system will assist in Horgos' further development.

Shen said that with administrative approval rights, the new city can plan its own development requirements.

"The city can be clearly divided into functional areas to better serve business development," Shen said.

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn and gaobo@chinadaily.com.cn

 
 
 
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