Night scene of Urumqi International Bazaar
It’s “bazaar” not “Balzac”. Xinjiang’s “Bazha” refers to bazaar market.
However, in Xinjiang, a bazaar is more than just a place to buy things. It offers locals a place to enjoy the flavour of a festival, to have a rest and to meet with friends. People barter goods, exchange information, and even gossip at the bazaar market.
It is said that the word “bazaar” came from Persia, meaning things outside of the one’s home, thus people can talk all they want to talk at the market.
Walking in any town in southern Xinjiang, one can find a busy bazaar market.
The one in Kashi is the biggest and thus the most famous. Each time, there are over 70,000 people going the market.
When the days of bazaars come, residents rush into the bazaar, some driving their animal carts, some riding bicycles, motorcycles, or on foot.
They barter their farm products and daily used items in the bazaar. But these simple bartered goods do not need whole households to spend a whole day. However, people like to go to bazaar, for it’s like a small festival every several days.
In bazaars, one can have roasted meat, cool noodles, sweet yoghurt or home-made ice cream, smoke Mohe cigarettes, gossip, joke with old acquaintances; all these factors constitute a picture of the ethnic group.
Bazaar is national and traditional. From a mere economic prospective, it’s also the primitive economical communication pattern. However, bazaar with its essence—mutual exchanges of needs, has always been a model during the development of Xinjiang’s modern foreign trade.
The old bazaar is still respectful in modern economy.
Now, bazaar is on its way to modernization.
In the Second Bridge Street of the capital, Urumqi, there is the world’s biggest bazaar with special national style, never failing to attract millions of businessmen and travelers every day. It’s like a library and an episode, wonderfully expressing the advantage and potential of Xinjiang’s international trade.
On international trade, Xinjiang’s has historical experiences, theoretical traditions and geographical advantages.
In history, Xinjiang used to be the key area of the Silk Road, for it’s the joint of each route in each direction. Many places are important posts along the Silk Road. Such as Hami, Turpan, Urumqi and Yili on the north route, Yanqi, Luntai, Kuqa and Aksu on the central route, Loulan, Hetian, Kashi and Atush on the north route.
The Grassland Silk Road, it is said by some scholars, stretches from Mongolia Grassland to the west, through the Altay Grassland and to the Middle Asia Grassland in the further west.
Xinjiang was also the important route of the gem road, due to the keen demand of Kunlun jade in the central plains of China.
The Silk Road brought profits for both the west and the east, also brought vitality to the once closed oases and benefited the cities and peoples along the road. Besides tariffs gained by the government, inns, restaurants, camel groups, guides and translators all made money from the prosperous trade.
After the Middle Ages, the Silk Road gradually faded, along with the emergence of China Road on the sea, the ocean route and the industrial revolution.
However, the thousand-year-long history will never fade away, and it will surely leave some things for later generations.
Xinjiang people also have the tradition of being good at handling business.
Perhaps influenced by the trade through the Silk Road, Xinjiang’s traditional culture is mercantile, which might also be due to people’s desire to communicate with the outside world, and their daily needs around closed oases.
Xinjiang's tourist souvenirs
Many ethnic groups living in Xinjiang are also good at doing business. The Hui people are good at running restaurants, and people in Atush are famous businessmen.
Xinjiang also has the geographical advantage of developing international trade.
Xinjiang borders eight countries and is an important gate of opening up in West China. Many places like Hongjilapu, Turgat, Yirkshitan, Horgos, Alataw Pass, Bakhtu, Jimunai and Takeshiken are important border posts.
The Eurasian Continental Bridge, connecting the Fast East and the West Europe, passes through Xinjiang. The South-Xinjiang Railway is also expected to be extended to the west, connecting the Central Asia and the West Asia.
Two examples which prove the area's trade advantage are the Border Xinjiang Hotel and Hualing Market, which receive many people from Central Asia and South Asia to purchase categories of foods.
International trade in Xinjiang has been stepped up. The trade form has developed from border trade, traveling purchasing to direct investment and starting companies in Central Asia.
The varieties of traded goods also have broadened from small goods, clothing, household appliances and raw materials to energy, telecommunications, mechanical and electrical, technological services and so on.
The Horgos Border International Cooperation Centre, which is under construction, reveals an attractive prospect.
The next tendency will be participation of big companies, specialized operations, joint benefits and diversified development.
The government also plays an active role. The aim of Urumqi is to become a modern international trade centre, and the transit depot and distribution centre of funds, technology, pedestrians and goods flows of Central Asia. Places like Kashi，Shihezi and Kuitun have also drawn development strategies to the outside world according to their own geographical and economic features.
Xinjiang was born to be a huge bazaar of international trade.
With the change of international economic structures, the Silk Road, after a thousand years’ sleep, is almost reborn on the modern international trade stage.