China tapping Pakistan as alternative seafood supply source

The border between Pakistan and China
The border between Pakistan and China | Photo courtesy of mamahoohooba/Shutterstock
4 Min

China is tapping into Pakistan as an alternative seafood supplier, with tensions ramping up between it and its primary trading partners.

On 1 June, an air shipment of fresh mullet from Pakistan arrived in Kashgar, a city in China’s Xinjiang region, according to China Daily. The mullet was imported by Xinjiang Huizhou Import and Export Trading Co., which distributes seafood out of the Kashgar Comprehensive Bonded Zone Cross-border e-Commerce Exhibition and Trading Center. The facility, which was opened in late 2023, is being touted by local officials as “Central Asia’s fresh and cold chain food import portal,” offering access to China’s westernmost region. 

The center is also designed to become a gateway to central Asian and European markets, aided by the establishment of the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone, a 180-square-kilometer area designated in November 2023 as a nexus for regional economic development efforts.

However, the effort has been complicated to some extent by U.S. and E.U. sanctions against China in response to its repression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority native to the Xinjiang region. China claims its mass detention of Uyghurs and its deportation of thousands to work across China, including in seafood-processing facilities, are part of a poverty-alleviation scheme.

So, More Pakistani seafood is being shipped overland into Xinjiang, which borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In November 2023, Xinjiang Jingyicheng Group announced the shipment from Karachi of a 22-ton consignment of frozen seafood worth CNY 650,000 (USD 89,000, EUR 82,000). The journey took seven days, which the company claimed was still shorter than the multi-week trip it takes on roads from China’s east coast ports.

China has, for some time, prioritized the diversification of its food imports for geopolitical as well as logistical reasons. Pakistan, which owes 30 percent of its foreign debt to China, is a member of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum, established by Beijing, which meets annually to advance development of the regional blue economy. The forum is aimed at creating an alternative to Western financing options for development projects in the 19 countries belonging to the forum.

As part of a USD 45 billion (EUR 39.3 million) Belt and Road program investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project beginning in 2013, China built thousands of miles of roads and completed an upgrade of the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Gulf.

But, the port is not achieving the ...

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Editor's Choice