Asia

Chinese ship opens new trade route via Pakistani port

  • A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Pakistan's top civil and military leaders opened a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port in the country's low-insurgency wracked Baluchistan province. (AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf)

    A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Pakistan's top civil and military leaders opened a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port in the country's low-insurgency wracked Baluchistan province. (AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center left, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, fourth right, pray after inaugurating a new international trade route during a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Pakistan's top civil and military leaders opened the new route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, center, attended. (AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf)

    Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center left, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, fourth right, pray after inaugurating a new international trade route during a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Pakistan's top civil and military leaders opened the new route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, center, attended. (AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 11, 2016 photo, Pakistan Navy soldiers patrol in Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi.  Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders traveled to the country's southwest on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016,  to open a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

    In this April 11, 2016 photo, Pakistan Navy soldiers patrol in Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders traveled to the country's southwest on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, to open a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)  (The Associated Press)

Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders traveled to the country's southwest on Sunday to open a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that's exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa from the newly built Gwadar port.

The first convoy of Chinese trucks carrying goods for sale abroad has arrived in Pakistan amid tight security using a road linking Gwadar to China's northwestern Xinjiang region, the government said in a statement.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan will provide best possible security to foreign investors to enable them to use the Chinese-funded port for international trade.

Amid security concerns for foreign workers, the Pakistani army has created a special force to guard the new trade routes and the port, which is located in insurgency-wracked Baluchistan province where an overnight blast at a shrine killed nearly 50 people.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group and Pakistani officials said it was aimed at harming the Chinese-funded projects in the southwest and elsewhere in the country.

China is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that is expected to absorb $46 billion in Chinese investment in the coming decades.

China and Pakistan have long maintained close political and military relations, based partly on mutual antipathy toward neighbor India. Gwadar port is located on the Arabian Sea and it occupies a strategic location between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The port is also located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz.

China is seeking convenient and reliable access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Chinese ships now use the Strait of Malacca, a narrow passage between the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia. The proposed new route would give China access to the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East.