Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















THE STANS
For Pakistanis, China 'friendship' road runs one way
By Ben Dooley
Tashkurgan, China (AFP) Aug 2, 2017


The China-Pakistan Friendship Highway runs over 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from the far western Chinese city of Kashgar through the world's highest mountain pass and across the border.

For China, the two-lane thoroughfare symbolises a blossoming partnership, nourished with tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment.

But for many Pakistani businessmen living and working on the Chinese side of the border, the road is a one way street.

"China says our friendship is as high as the Himalayas and as deep as the sea, but it has no heart," said Pakistani businessman Murad Shah, as he tended his shop in Tashkurgan, 120 kilometres from the mountain pass where trucks line up to cross between China's vast Xinjiang region and Pakistan.

"There is no benefit for Pakistan. It's all about expanding China's growth," Shah said, as he straightened a display of precious stones.

The remote town of around 9,000 is at the geographic heart of Beijing's plans to build a major trade artery -- the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) -- connecting Kashgar to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

The project is a crown jewel of China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, a massive global infrastructure programme to revive the ancient Silk Road and connect Chinese companies to new markets around the world.

In 2013, Beijing and Islamabad signed agreements worth $46 billion to build transport and energy infrastructure along the corridor, and China has upgraded the treacherous mountain road better known as the Karakoram Highway.

While both countries say the project is mutually beneficial, data shows a different story.

Pakistan's exports to China fell by almost eight percent in the second half of 2016, while imports jumped by almost 29 percent.

In May, Pakistan accused China of flooding its market with cut rate steel and threatened to respond with high tariffs.

"There are all of these hopes and dreams about Pakistan exports," said Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"But if you're connecting with China, what are you going to be exporting?"

- 'This is not allowed' -

One answer is Nigerian "male enhancement" supplements: expired medications which Pakistani merchants in the oasis city of Hotan recently peddled to bearded Muslims walking home from Friday prayers.

The products were typical of the kinds of small consumer goods brought by Pakistani traders into Xinjiang: medicine, toiletries, semi-precious stones, rugs and handicrafts.

Pakistani businessmen in Xinjiang see few benefits from CPEC, complaining of intrusive security and capricious customs arrangements.

"If you bring anything from China, no problem," said Muhammad, a trader in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, who declined to give his full name.

But he said tariffs on imported Pakistani goods are "not declared. Today it's five percent, tomorrow maybe 20. Sometimes, they just say this is not allowed".

Three years ago, Shah was charged between eight and 15 yuan per kilo to bring lapis lazuli, a blue stone. The duty has since soared to 50 yuan per kilo, he said.

Customs officials told AFP the "elements influencing prices were too many" for them to offer a "definite and detailed list" of costs.

While large-scale importers can absorb the tariffs, independent Pakistani traders have benefited little from CPEC, said Hasan Karrar, political economy professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Alessandro Rippa, an expert on Chinese infrastructure projects at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, said the highway "is not very relevant to overall trade" because "the sea route is just cheaper and faster".

The project is better understood as a tool for China to promote its geopolitical interests and help struggling state-owned companies export excess production, he said.

- 'Maybe it will be good' -

Traders also face overbearing security in China.

Over the last year, Beijing has flooded Xinjiang, which has a large Muslim population, with tens of thousands of security personnel and imposed draconian rules to eliminate "extremism".

Businessmen complain they are not allowed to worship at local mosques, while shops can be closed for up to a year for importing merchandise with Arabic script.

In June, on the 300 kilometre trip between Kashgar and Tashkurgan, drivers were stopped at six police checkpoints, while their passengers had to walk through metal detectors and show identification cards. Signs warn that officials can check mobile phones for "illegal" religious content.

Police officers interrupted an interview in Tashkurgan to demand a shopkeeper hand over his smartphone and computer for inspection, an event he said occurs several times a week.

Shah said that when he first arrived in the town, the intrusive security made him nervous: "But now I'm used to it. I almost feel like I'm one of the police."

As he spoke, an alarm sounded. He grabbed a crude spear, body armour and a black helmet off his counter and rushed into the street, where police had assembled over a dozen people for impromptu counter-terrorism drills.

The exercises are held up to four times a day. Stores are closed for several days if they do not participate.

Back in Kashgar, Muhammad hopes that CPEC will make life better, but he believes the oppressive security will remain an obstacle.

He plans to give it another three years. But, he said, he cannot wait forever: "Many people have already gone back."

THE STANS
US watchdog files report on Afghanistan child abuse
Washington (AFP) Aug 1, 2017
A US government watchdog has filed a secret report to Congress into allegations of child sex abuse by the Afghan security forces - and the extent to which America holds them accountable. According to the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which on Tuesday announced it had sent the classified findings to lawmakers, Afghan officials are failing to ... read more

Related Links
News From Across The Stans

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

THE STANS
Let's cut them off from access to Space

NASA Offers Space Station as Catalyst for Discovery in Washington

Astronauts gear up for space with tough Russian training

Astronauts grow cucumbers in space to help scientists understand root growth

THE STANS
India looks to more launches with new facility from 2018

Sea Launch to be modernized for Russia's Soyuz-5 carrier rocket

Navy completes testing fixes on electro-magnetic launch systems

ISRO Develops Ship-Based Antenna System to Track Satellite Launches

THE STANS
For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame the Sun

Tributes to wetter times on Mars

Opportunity will spend three weeks at current location due to Solar Conjunction

Curiosity Mars Rover Begins Study of Ridge Destination

THE STANS
China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

Chinese Space Program: From Setback, to Manned Flights, to the Moon

Chinese Rocket Fizzles Out, Puts Other Launches on Hold

THE STANS
Airbus DS to expand cooperation with Russia

ASTROSCALE Raises a Total of $25 Million in Series C Led by Private Companies

LISA Pathfinder: bake, rattle and roll

A Final Farewell to LISA Pathfinder

THE STANS
ARCTEC receives contract for Air Force radar sites in Alaska

Reality check for 'wonder material'

Fundamental breakthrough in the future of designing materials

Engineering on a blue streak

THE STANS
A New Search for Extrasolar Planets from the Arecibo Observatory

Gulf of Mexico tube worm is one of the longest-living animals in the world

Molecular Outflow Launched Beyond Disk Around Young Star

Breakthrough Starshot launches tiny spacecraft in quest for Alpha Centauri

THE STANS
New Horizons Video Soars over Pluto's Majestic Mountains and Icy Plains

Juno spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

NASA's New Horizons Team Strikes Gold in Argentina




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement