China-Eurasia expo builds ties among Belt and Road nations
I first started with a small shop in Kashgar. But gradually, I just moved forward .” Muhammad Abbas, businessman
Muhammad Abbas has taken part in each of the past five China-Eurasia Expos, while his business has grown from a small shop to a company with a brand name during this time.
“I first started with a small shop in Kashgar. But gradually, I just moved forward. It was a good journey, and a successful one for the business,” the Pakistani national said at the fifth China-Eurasia Expo, which was held in Urumqi, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, from Sept 20 to 25.
However, Abbas’ business revenue had been growing until last year, when the jewelry market was hit by sluggish demand.
“There are ups and downs in every business. I hope it will again pick up,” he said.
Meanwhile, he hopes that the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor will also provide easy access to the world market for Chinese products, and ultimately benefit his business.
Abbas is just one of the thousands of exhibitors from 57 countries who took part in this year’s expo.
Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said in a keynote speech that the China-Eurasia Expo has become an important tool for the Chinese government to implement its opening-up strategy and a major platform for communication and cooperation among Eurasian countries.
Pakistan, Belarus and Italy are among the 23 countries and regions that have participated in the event in Xinjiang since it was first held in 2011, while delegates from dozens of Caribbean and African countries were attending for the first time this year.
Tajikistani Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda said in a keynote speech at the expo that the event has played a larger and more influential role in promoting trade among Eurasian countries and building the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Trade volume between China and Belt and Road countries exceeded $446 billion in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. China has invested more than $51 billion in the countries since the initiative was proposed and signed related cooperation agreements with more than 30 countries.
More than 100 countries and international organizations have taken part in the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the two key components of the initiative unveiled by President Xi Jinping during visits to Central and Southeast Asia in 2013.
Li Jingyuan, executive secretary of the expo, said efforts have been made to upgrade the China-Eurasia Expo into a diplomatic platform for world leaders, especially from Belt and Road countries.
At the past four expos, nearly 30 heads of state and directors of international organizations, along with more than 700 ministerial-level guests, came together to forge cooperation initiatives on issues of common interest at nearly 40 high-level forums and special events.
Zhang Jiwen, an official at the general administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine, said in an international forum on entry-exit health quarantine at the expo that the country is looking to step up cooperation with Eurasian countries on border health quarantine procedures to prevent the spread of endemic diseases.
Zhang said the Belt and Road Initiative will bring more frequent international exchanges in cargo and personnel as cross-border trade increases, adding that there are 4.4 billion people in Eurasia, and public health conditions and endemic disease transmission rates vary greatly among countries.
During the expo, telecom service providers from eight Eurasian countries signed a manifesto as they jointly committed to create a high-speed network to increase connectivity and promote cultural and economic exchanges.
Chen Lidong, deputy head of information and communication services development at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the signing of the manifesto is also aimed at enabling telecom companies in different countries to develop mutually beneficial relations for people and enterprises in countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt.
He added that China wants to help improve the overall level of information communication in the Eurasian region and gradually eliminate the digital divide between countries.
“We are willing to promote trade and economic exchanges by strengthening network connectivity and developing cross-border e-commerce,” he said.
Visitors examine carpets at the Iran pavilion during the fifth China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi on Sept 22.
Performers dance at the Belarus pavilion during the fifth ChinaEurasia Expo in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Sept 22.
An exhibitor drinks wine at the Georgia pavilion during the fifth China-Eurasia Expo on Sept 22.