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N 39° 41′ 57′′, E 73° 55′ 11′′
2,804 MASL
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The 214-kilometer Kashgar–Irkeshtam Expressway (G3013) traversing westward through Ulugqat County in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) along the southern foot of the Tien Shan mountains. Despite the Irkeshtam–Erkeshtam border crossing remaining closed for four decades since the late 1950s, the road was well maintained throughout the second half of the 20th century for strategic reasons.

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Trucks from China bringing aid and relief to the village of Nura in Kyrgyzstan, which suffered extensive damage when a magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the region on October 5, 2008. Although the earthquake caused only minor damage to XUAR’s Ulugqat County, a second border checkpoint was set up in the county seat, thereby creating a 136-kilometer buffer zone between two checkpoints to better control the flow of goods and people at the restive border region.

1864: The 1864 Protocol of Chuguchak (or the Protocol of Tacheng in Chinese sources) was signed between Qing China and Tsarist Russia to clarify the borderline from the Altai Mountains in the north to the Tien Shan Mountains in the south.


1884: A long-established caravan stop on a major trade route along the southern foot of the Tien Shan mountains, Irkeshtam border trade port was formed after the second Kashgar treaty (the auxiliary treaty of the 1881 Treaty of St. Petersburg) was signed to define the southernmost section of the Chinese–Russo boundary.


1893: After Tsarist Russia gradually took control of Central Asia over the second half of the 19th century, the horse path was established between Irkeshtam and Osh. Osh was a major center of the ancient overland trade route taken by caravans between Europe and Asia.


1895: Irkeshtam became a major node on the postal and telecommunications network between Russia and Xinjiang in China. Russia set up a telegraph station in Kashgar in 1895 to communicate with Russian Telegraph Bureau in Andijan via Irkeshtam.


1917: After the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912, the republic government started to invest in transportation and telecommunication infrastructure in Xinjiang. The infrastructure includes a telegraph line between Kashgar and Irkeshtam.


1944: During the Second Sino–Japanese War (1937–1945), a 214-km car road between Irkeshtam and Kashgar was built by the nationalist government and was completed in 1944.


1951: Maintaining the road between Irkeshtam and Kashgar was of great importance to the government of the newly established People’s Republic of China (PRC). Soon after its formation in 1951, the government of Ulugqat County took on the task to repair four major river crossing bridges along the route.


1952: The role of Irkeshtam as a major node on the postal and telecommunications network between the Soviet Union (1922–1991) and Xinjiang in China was replaced by Tuergate in 1952. The Irkeshtam border crossing remained closed because of deteriorated relations between the Soviet Union and China since the late 1950s.


1996: Kyrgyzstan and China delimited their border in 1996 following a framework for the post-Soviet border normalization in the west Asian region set out in the Shanghai Record.


1997: Irkeshtam Port was opened on a temporary basis in July.


2002: Irkeshtam Port was officially opened in May.


2008: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the region in Octobe. As a response to the 2008 earthquake and the intensifying social unrest in southern Xinjiang, a new border port complex in Ulugqat town, which is located 136 km east of the old one, was planned on the Chinese side and started operation in 2011.


2012: China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) carried out a feasibility study for the China–Kyrgyzstan–Uzbekistan (CKU) Railway project. The Kashgar to Irkeshtam railway is part of the western scheme of the CKU Railway.


2018: The CKU transportation corridor, which was officially opened in October 2017, started functioning in February 2018.

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