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N 45° 12′ 05′′, E 82° 33′ 11′′
354 MASL
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View of Altai Mountains from the north in the early 1910s. Dzungarian Gate (now Alashankou–Dostyk) is known as a geographically and historically significant mountain pass between China and Central Asia, which used to provide a convenient corridor suitable for riders on horseback between the western Eurasian steppe and lands further east. The mountain pass is also famous for its fierce and nearly constant winds.

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The Alashankou container terminal, with a field of wind turbines in the background. Alashankou endures strong winds blowing at approximately 40 mph for more than 160 days a year. In 2009, China Railway Container Transport Corporation (CRCT) completed an indoor container transfer station at Alashankou, which is the largest in Asia, to prevent container loading procedures from being affected by strong winds. In the same year, to harness the strong and frequent winds, construction of the China Guodian Corporation’s one million-kilowatt Alashankou wind farm began.

1864: The 1864 Protocol of Chuguchak between Qing China and Tsarist Russia was signed to clarify the borderline from the Altai Mountains in the north to the Tien Shan Mountains in the south. The border cut across Dzungarian Gate (now Alashankou–Dostyk), which is a geographically and historically significant mountain pass between China and Central Asia.


1886: As early as 1886, a railway between Siberia and Russian Turkestan was proposed by Russian engineers. An eastern branch of the railway linking Aktogay and Druzhba (now Dostyk) could enhance Russia’s military and economic presence at the Chinese border.


1896: A commission was established to examine the feasibility of constructing the Turkestan–Siberia Railway (TSR). A detailed survey was conducted on the steppe and semi-desert regions the railway was expected to cross.


1905: By the early 20th century, Qing China and Tsarist Russia realized the potential of the petroleum reserves in the Dzungarian Basin, which had numerous sites reporting oil seepages. In his 1905 expedition, Russian geologist Vladimir Obruchev confirmed the vast reserve potential of Dushanzi, which is located on the southwestern edge of the Dzungarian Basin.


1906: Construction of the TSR began.


1912: Drilling operations began in 1909, when Qing provincial officials established a joint public–private enterprise at Dushanzi, and ended a year after the 1911 Chinese Revolution. The Dushanzi operation was unique at the time, which used an imported Russian drill and hired Russian engineers.


1917: Construction of the TSR was suspended for a decade following the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. At the time, only the northern section of the railway (Altai Railway) had been completed.


1931: The bulk of the construction on the TSR was carried out during the first Five-Year Plan (1928–32) of the Soviet Union.


1954: The signing of a Sino­–Soviet agreement in 1954 laid the institutional foundation for a new railway line joining preexisting railway tracks in both countries to enable transport from China’s Pacific coast to Baltic ports. The new railway line was planned to connect Aktogay on the TSR and Alashankou through Druzhba (Dostyk) and Lanzhou on the Lanzhou–Lianyungang Railway and Alashankou through Urumqi.


1961: Aktogay­–Lanzhou Railway construction was suspended owing to deteriorated relations between the Soviet Union and China. At the time, the sections connecting Aktogay and Druzhba (Dostyk) on the Soviet side and Lanzhou and Urumqi on the Chinese side had been completed.


1990: Construction of the railway track linking Urumqi and Alashankou resumed in 1985. This section was completed and linked to the Aktogay–Dostyk section in 1990. Alashankou Port was established.


1992: Alashankou Port was opened to international freight on a temporary basis in July 1991 and officially opened the following year after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Bole Border Economic Cooperation Zone was established.


2005: With a bilateral agreement signed in 1997, the Kazakhstan–China Oil Pipeline (KCOP), which is China’s first direct oil import pipeline, became operational in December. Oil through the KCOP reached the Dushanzi refinery in June 2006.


2009: Stage one of the Central Asia–China Gas Pipeline became operational. China Guodian Corporation began construction of the Alashankou wind farm, and China Railway Container Transport Corporation (CRCT) completed an indoor container transfer station at Alashankou, which is the largest in Asia.


2011: The western route of the China Railway Express through Alashankou–Dostyk began operations.

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