China and Kyrgyzstan: So near and yet so far

August 11, 2015 6:57 AM (UTC+8)

 

(From The Diplomat)

If only President Xi Jinping knew, maybe heads would roll. But, as the old saying goes, “the mountains are high and the emperor is far away,” and it’s hard for the watchful eye of the anti-corruption campaign to reach as far as this strip of land where China and Kyrgyzstan meet.

The Sino-Kyrgyz border is, on paper, an important crossing but its development has been slow
The Sino-Kyrgyz border is, on paper, an important crossing but its development has been slow

The intrepid traveler who wants to cross the Sino-Kyrgyz border through the Irkeshtam Pass (the “smoothest” and most Southern) has to go through two border crossings, two checkpoints, and a 150 kilometer ride (using official taxis or hitchhiking) just to change sides.

On the Chinese side, the final goal is an impressive modern structure resembling an airport terminal with a five-starred red flag waiving at the top. But inside, nobody is there to welcome you. No trace of officers either: only their photos, names and ethnicity posted at the entrance.

“Is it always like this around here?” I asked after more than an hour of waiting.

“Sometimes …” replied a Chinese Kyrgyz who seems to live this odyssey every day without the slightest hint of annoyance. Read More

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