Redboots, You are so right, the things are definitely different!
In China embassy here in Zagreb they are very friendly and told me a lot...
One problem is that in China International Driver Licence is NOT accepted.
I think, that is the reason why escort is mandatory.
But "look on the bright side", there is no problem to enter Afghanistan at least not for me, today I spoke with Afghan embassy and tourist office in Vienna, and there is no problem in enterying Afghanistan not even on a motorcycle!
I will probably go from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and from Afghanistan to Pakistan! I will see a little of KKH!
Max, If You even succseed to enter China don't expect to go freely in Tibet, you need special permits for Tibet!