Kyrgyzstan, China to be joined by third border crossing
The Bedel Pass is situated in a remote southeastern corner of Kyrgyzstan, sited roughly equidistantly from the Kyrgyz city of Karakol and Xinjiang’s Aksu Prefecture.
Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, in August 2023. Image: Dynamoland/Shutterstock
(Eurasianet) The head of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region has said a third checkpoint will be opened this year on the border between China and Kyrgyzstan.
Erkin Tuniyaz told a meeting of the Xinjiang representative chamber that the crossing would be located at the Bedel Pass, which is situated in remote southeastern corner of Kyrgyzstan, sited roughly equidistantly from the Kyrgyz city of Karakol and Xinjiang’s Aksu Prefecture.
No details are as yet available who will be permitted to use the crossing.
There are at present two entry points between China and Kyrgyzstan: the Irkeshtam pass in the far south of Kyrgyzstan, a few hours’ drive from the country’s second city, Osh, and the further-flung Torugart pass, some 160 kilometers to the east. The Bedel crossing would be the most eastern-sited crossing of the three once it opens.
The Bedel pass was used in antiquity, by voyagers and traders plying what is known as the Silk Road, to travel between the Issyk-Kul region and inhabited areas along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The expectation now is that it will give a new boost to Sino-Kyrgyz trade and ease the burden on existing crossings.
In addition to trailing the opening of the Bedel checkpoint, deputy Prime Minister Bakyt Torobayev in December said that a four-lane bridge would be inaugurated at the Irkeshtam crossing.
Truckers have complained for years of a lack of throughput-capacity at Irkeshtam. In December, representatives of the presidential administration met with transportation, customs, border service, road maintenance, and tax service officials, as well as trucking industry lobbyists, to discuss ways of streamlining the passage of cargo containers through Irkeshtam and reducing logjams along the Osh-Sary-Tash-Irkeshtam highway.
As for Torugart, President Sadyr Japarov’s announced last month that it will from this spring start operating on a 24-hour work schedule. That change was the result of a proposal made in October by Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov – not a relation of the president – to the Chinese government as part of the agenda to increase cargo throughput.
The same thinking lay behind this weekend’s opening of an industrial park at the Kashgar Bonded Zone that has been created as part of an initiative dubbed “Two Countries – Two Parks.” Kyrgyzstan’s Digital Development Ministry said in a statement on January 27 that this facility would enable the delivery of goods between warehouses in the Kashgar Bonded Zone and Kyrgyzstan’s Naryn Free Economic Zone within windows of 48 and 72 hours.