By Douglas Birch and Mansur Mirovalev, Associated Press
KHORGOS, Kazakhstan — The driver of the 18-wheel tractor-trailer from China idling at the Kazakhstan-China border said apples were the cargo he brought to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s booming commercial center.
For Kazakhs, there’s a tart irony in the shipment.
Almaty’s region is where the first apple trees were found and the first apple orchards planted. The city was a center of the Soviet Union’s s fruit industry. Its very name means “Father of Apples.”
In the past few years, Chinese fruit, vegetables, TV sets, T-shirts and tires have flooded markets along the old Silk Road in former Soviet Central Asia. Each day, all along the Chinese border, hundreds of tractor-trailers rattle west.
These goods are the most visible sign of Beijing’s growing power ….