Air­borne Silk Road helps boost Zhengzhou’s for­tunes

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS - By QI XIN qixin@chi­

More than 2,000 years ago, the an­cient Silk Road un­locked the po­ten­tial of eco­nomic ex­changes and trade via camel with dis­tant coun­tries. Nowa­days, air trans­porta­tion is play­ing a key role.

A new “Silk Road in the air” is boom­ing in Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of Cen­tral China’s He­nan prov­ince, link­ing it all the way to Lux­em­bourg. This in­ter­na­tional flight route be­tween the two cities is help­ing boost global trade.

Statis­tics show to­tal cargo ship­ments in and out of Zhengzhou Air­port likely reached 500,000 met­ric tons in 2017, and cargo ship­ments to and from Lux­em­bourg alone from Zhengzhou were ex­pected to con­sti­tute 150,000 tons of this, or nearly a third of the to­tal cargo ship­ments, said Eric Er­bacher, sales di­rec­tor of Car­golux Air­lines In­ter­na­tional, Europe’s big­gest all-cargo air­line.

Point­ing to sev­eral large con­tain­ers of fresh fruit, he said: “It only takes about 19 flight hours to de­liver the South Amer­i­can cher­ries to Zhengzhou by char­ter flight, per­fectly fresh!”

“In South Amer­ica, the cher­ries have en­joyed a bumper har­vest, while China is boom­ing now. We de­liv­ered them here di­rectly to China to meet mar­ket de­mand as Christ­mas and New Year fes­ti­vals are com­ing,” Er­bacher said in a LuxFresh store at the Zhengzhou Air­port Eco­nomic Com­pre­hen­sive Ex­per­i­men­tal Area.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping first pushed for China to build a “Silk Road in the air” be­tween Lux­em­bourg and Zhengzhou on June 14, 2017, dur­ing a meet­ing with vis­it­ing Lux­em­bourg Prime Min­is­ter Xavier Bet­tel in Bei­jing.

Xi said that China and Lux­em­bourg should deepen co­op­er­a­tion in fi­nance and pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity within the frame­work of pro­mot­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The Ini­tia­tive was pro­posed in 2013, and aims to build trade and in­fra­struc­ture net­works con­nect­ing Asia with Europe and Africa along the an­cient Silk Road trade routes while seek­ing com­mon devel­op­ment and pros­per­ity.

Er­bacher said sup­port for the “Silk Road in the air” showed a level of fore­sight and quick ac­tion needed to grasp new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Xie Fuzhan, Party chief of He­nan, said: “Un­like coastal cities, Zhengzhou is well con­nected by rail­way, air and high­way.”

He said both Lux­em­bourg and Zhengzhou are key trans­port hubs that link air­ways and rail­ways, and Zhengzhou has seen boom­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Lux­em­bourg in sec­tors in­clud­ing tourism, air trans­porta­tion and rail­way ship­ping.

Since air­freight op­er­a­tions be­tween the He­nan Civil Avi­a­tion Devel­op­ment and In­vest­ment Lo­gis­tics Co Ltd and Car­golux Air­lines In­ter­na­tional be­gan in 2014, the ZhengzhouLux­em­bourg pro­ject has cov­ered Ger­many, Bel­gium, Chile and the United States.

HNCA Lo­gis­tics set up an in­te­grated ser­vice plat­form of avi­a­tion lo­gis­tics for in­ter­na­tional trade ex­changes, and lo­cals no longer need to go over­seas to buy their fa­vorite for­eign prod­ucts.

Tax ben­e­fits in­volv­ing bag­gage and postal ar­ti­cles al­low the prod­ucts to be sold at com­pet­i­tive prices and are avail­able to lo­cals, and they will then be de­liv­ered to other prov­inces based on Zhengzhou’s lo­gis­ti­cal ad­van­tages, HNCA said.

Kang Shuxia, deputy gen­eral man­ager of He­nan Air­port Group, said: “Their cross-bor­der or e-com­merce busi­nesses de­liver fresh fruits, seafood, Aus­tralian live cat­tle and elec­tronic prod­ucts like iPhones, and this has made Zhengzhou Air­port be­come one of the most com­pre­hen­sive in­land air­ports right now.”

“The high value-added prod­ucts would be picked up by air,” said Er­bacher, “In the past, the fash­ion gar­ments have been mainly sold in the sum­mer and win­ter sea­sons. How­ever, fash­ion changes each week, so it also be­comes a huge po­ten­tial item in air trans­porta­tion.”

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