China, Pakistan Launch Direct Rail and Sea Freight Service to Enhance Economic Cooperation
China and Pakistan opened a new chapter in their diplomatic relationship on Thursday by launching a direct rail and sea freight service between them.
The service, which is the first of its kind between the two nations, was unveiled with the first cargo train departing from China's southwest Yunnan Province for Pakistan's Karachi City. The cargo train was loaded with 500 tons of commodities as it left Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, and would travel via the port city of Guangzhou before reaching Karachi.
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Chinese state media reported that the new rail and sea freight service will help in bringing down logistics cost, including transportation cost, to nearly 50 percent. The newly launched service is a vital part of China's ambitious Maritime Silk Road project, of which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC) is an extension.
It must be noted that Beijing and Islamabad initiated first trade activities under CPEC project last month, after hordes of Chinese containers left Sust port in Hunza for Pakistan's Gwadar port in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the opening of the new route and claimed that it will mutually benefit both countries. It said that the new route will help Pakistan's business community to enhance trading relation with China in a more convenient way, while China will get access to world market through the new route.
CPEC a Watershed Project for China-Pak Relation
The $46 billion dollar CPEC project is widely hailed as the most ambitious economic project between China and Pakistan. The project spans across a 3,000-kilometer network of roads and railways to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to China's autonomous region of Xinjiang.
The multi-billion dollar project was envisaged to be a vital part of the Maritime Silk Route that has set the ambitious goal of linking 3 billion people in Asia, Africa, and Europe via ambitious trade routes.
The CPEC, however, has been plagued with host of controversies that made many Pakistani leaders nervous. The controversies spurred mainly owing to security concerns expressed by its neighboring country India.