Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily (Reporter: Dong Xiaohan) news: Recently, there have been many Russians in the morning market of Heihe City, a small border city in Heilongjiang Province in China. They held steamed buns in one hand and beer in the other, and got their eyes on the egg burgers coming out of the oven. They came to this morning market in the northeast of China by taking a 7-minute ship. Like that, you can also experience visa-free cross-border travel and visit an area straddling the two countries in Horgos in Xinjiang.
Photo taken on September 29, 2023 shows many tourists in the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo by Nie Xiaowei)
From July 8, 2022, Kazakhstan implements a 14-day visa-free entry policy for Chinese citizens, so more and more Chinese tourists choose to travel abroad from Horgos. Citizens of China and Kazakhstan can travel to each other's country without applying for a visa in advance. From the date of entry, a stay in the neighboring country shall not exceed 30 days, and the cumulative time of each 180 days shall not exceed 90 days.
Visit an area straddling the two countries
Horgos, located in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is adjacent to Kazakhstan, and is an important gateway for the country's westward opening up. In Horgos, there is a special area jointly built by China and Kazakhstan—the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center. This cooperation center connects China and Central Asia with a passage across the borderline. In here, you can leave the border of one country and set foot on the other in one step.
Photo taken on August 27, 2023 shows tourists visit the connection passage of the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. You can visit an area straddling the two countries here. (Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/ Cai Zengle)
Relying on the unique advantages of geographical location, policy and openness, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center has become the first cross-border free trade zone and the "pilot field" of interconnection with Eurasian countries in China. On April 18, 2012, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center was officially put into used. The management system featuring “free flow through the first line and efficient control at the second line” and the preferential policy of "within the borders while outside the customs territory" were implemented. People of both countries and third countries can enter and leave the cooperation center without visas but with valid documents such as passports or entry and exit passes. It provides great convenience for trade negotiations, product display and sales, warehousing and transportation and organizing various regional international economic and trade fairs. It also provides a good platform for the hotel industry, commercial services and financial services.
Shop in the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center
You can buy world-famous brand products at the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center. There are many duty-free stores that gather tens of thousands of goods from all over the world, such as tobacco, wine, perfume, cosmetics, watches, bags, etc.
Photo taken on September 16, 2023 shows a tourist Huang Tianzhu (second from left) from Chengdu, China, and his friends wear Hanfu (the traditional costume of the Han Chinese ethnicity) to take a video at the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, attracting tourists to take photos with them. (Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/ Wang Jingjing)
Zhang Xiaomei, a tourist from Guizhou Province, China, visited the cooperation center and bought products of a total price of 8000 yuan (about 1096 U.S. dollars) at duty-free shops. “The customs clearance process is simplified. When shopping, you can scan the QR code of the products for traceability, and the shopping experience is great, "Zhang Xiaomei said. Each person only needs 15 yuan to apply for an entry and exit pass in 3 minutes.
Pazlova Mayra, a customer from Kazakhstan, said, "I'm from Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan. It's easy to get in and out. The various commodities here are of good quality. I bought bed sheets, duvet covers and clothes. I am very satisfied with the products manufactured in China.”
Photo taken on September 12, 2023 shows tourists shop at a duty-free shop in Golden Eagle Central Square of the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo by Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/ Janbolat Manarbak)
In the China side of the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, tourists from Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries can often be seen carrying Chinese goods in many bags. In the Kazakhstan side, Kazakhstan’s chocolate, Kyrgyzstan’s honey and goat milk powder from Uzbekistan have become the most popular things for Chinese tourists to buy.
The food court in the cooperation center has attracted a large number of foreign tourists to taste the various unique Xinjiang cuisines. They can taste various delicacies such as dapanji (big plate chicken) , latiaozi (pulled noodles) and pilaf.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays this year, the tourism in the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center recovered strongly, with more than 176,000 people entering or leaving the cooperation center during the festivals.
On November 1, an unveiling ceremony for the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone, composed of parts of Urumqi, Kashgar, and Horgos was officially held. In recent years, the advantages of Horgos in introducing foreign capital, establishing domestic connection, and "two resources (domestic and foreign resources) and two markets (domestic and foreign markets)" have been continuously demonstrated. The approval of China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone has brought more opportunities for its independent exploration, reform and innovation.
As the first cross-border economic cooperation zone in China, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center has focused on the foreign trade industry, duty-free shopping, international exhibitions and other characteristic industries in recent years, attracting people from all over the world. You can feel the strong vitality of the border trade economy at the port now.
Guo Liang, deputy director of the management office of the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, said, "We have attracted 30 billion yuan (about 4.11 billion U.S. dollars) of investment in China, and Kazakhstan has invested more than 1 billion dollars. Many tourists and merchants have gathered in the cooperation center, which has given us great confidence."
When Jumabayiwuwa Kurita Shenaslehezai, who has been doing catering business in Alma-Ata of Kazakhstan for 20 years, went to the cooperation center in 2017, she found that this place not only had a large passenger flow, but also attracted many investors relying on its preferential policies such as visa-free entry, cross-border tourism, and duty-free shopping. She found the business opportunity and decisively opened a restaurant here to sell 15 types of Kazakh food. I plan to open a branch this year and I am asking someone to help me find a good location.”
Over the past 10 years since the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, with its unique geographical advantages and preferential tax policies, the China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center has prospered and developed rapidly, covering an area of 5.6 square kilometers. It has attracted nearly 30 key projects in the fields of starred hotels, catering and entertainment, commercial facilities, and financial services, and introduced more than 3,500 merchants, becoming an important platform for economic and trade exchanges and people-to-people exchanges between China and Kazakhstan.
Partial source from: the Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, China Transport News, China News, China Consular News