Ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Pakistan, Beijing has inaugurated the first air cargo route linking Islamabad with border town Kashgar in northwest Xinjiang province.
The cargo service operates once a week and the frequency would increased to daily flights, based on freight volume, Wang Yongzhi, an official with the Kashgar which is a known as Kashi Prefecture government, told Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.
Kashgar is an oasis town east of the Taklamakan Desert and a trading hub along the ancient Silk Road that connected China to Europe.
China in recent years is seeking to develop Xinjiang, home to Muslim majority Uighurs, as a major trade and transport hub as it is located near the borders of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and India.
The cargo air route is expected to enhance commercial and trade relations between China and Pakistan, and is considered beneficial for people and enterprises in both countries, Wang said.
Until now, cargo shipped between China and Pakistan has mostly travelled by truck.
However, due to the severe climate and geographical factors, the closest border crossing is closed from the end of December to May each year.
Wen, who would be visiting India on December 15, is scheduled to go to Islamabad on December 17.