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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First for Far East Port

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East -- China began shipping cargo to Japan via a far eastern Russian port Wednesday, a move that officials hope will help establish Russia as a key transit point in the Pacific Rim.

The Russian port of Posiet, 50 kilometers from the Chinese border, will handle only 300 containers every month for now and gradually raise capacity, said Alexander Lashin, a spokesman with the regional committee for shipping, ports, communications, and transport.

The first containers were brought to the port from northeast China by land and then sent to Japan. Previously, cargo had to go to Chinese ports in the south and then around the Korean peninsula by ship - adding a day to the journey.

The current route connects the city of Yanji in China's Jilin province and the Japanese port of Akita on northern Honshu Island.

Officials say the new route is the first step in making the Far East a major transit corridor for trade between northeast China and ports throughout Japan and the western United States.