Once a Silk Road cen­ter, city again a hub of global trade

China Daily - - ADVERTORIAL - By HAO NAN hao­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More than 2,000 years ago, a trade route dubbed the “south­ern Silk Road” pro­moted ex­changes be­tween Chengdu, where the route orig­i­nated, with South­east and South Asian coun­tries. Nowa­days, with an ex­ten­sive trans­porta­tion net­work cov­er­ing air, wa­ter­ways and land, the Chi­nese city is once again align­ing its growth even more closely with the out­side world.

The ef­forts of Chengdu in South­west China to trans­form from a hin­ter­land to a bustling trade area is in line with the na­tion’s open­ing-up pol­icy.

On Oct 28, a new freight train car­ry­ing fur­ni­ture de­parted from Bre­mer­haven in Ger­many at night and is due to ar­rive at the Chengx­i­ang Rail­way Sta­tion in Chengdu’s Qing­bai­jiang district 16 days later. This was the first time for the Chengdu-Eu­rope Ex­press Rail­way to test a re­turn train from Bre­mer­haven, in­creas­ing the num­ber of its over­seas de­par­ture ter­mi­nals to 22.

The Chengdu-Eu­rope Ex­press Rail­way launched its first freight train on April 26, 2013 at the city’s Qing­bai­jiang Con­tainer Cen­ter. The di­rect train ser­vice, which was re­named in 2016 as the China-EU Ex­press Rail­way (Chengdu), has re­versed the geo­graphic disad­van­tages of Chengdu as a land­locked city and trans­formed it into an im­por­tant chan­nel of lo­gis­tics and eco­nomic ex­change along the over­land Eurasian Con­ti­nen­tal Bridge.

The ex­press rail­way now looks at all four points on the com­pass for ex­pan­sion, and forms an “across-the-board” open­ing-up strat­egy.

It now ter­mi­nates in Rus­sia in the north and reaches into the heart of Eu­rope and Cen­tral Asian coun­tries in the west. On the east side, it has ex­panded to Ja­pan, South Korea and the Amer­i­cas, as well as China’s Hong Kong, Ma­cao and Tai­wan, with the help of the Chengdu-Eu­rope Plus strat­egy and China’s long­est Yangtze River wa­ter­way. On the south side, it has linked with in­ter­na­tional lo­gis­tics net­works of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions.

As of Oct 16, Chengdu led the coun­try to dis­patch this year’s 1,000th China-EU freight train and has pro­vided a to­tal of 2,497 China-EU rail freight trains in the past five years, ac­count­ing for 25 per­cent of the na­tion’s to­tal.

Due to its im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Chengdu-Eu­rope Plus strat­egy, Chengdu has built fast and con­ve­nient trans­porta­tion channels with sev­eral coastal and river­side Chi­nese cities, in­clud­ing Shang­hai, Ningbo, Guangzhou and Shen­zhen.

With the deep­en­ing of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, the Chengdu-Eu­rope ex­press train has not only changed in­ter­na­tional lo­gis­tics and trans­port pat­terns, but also has pro­moted the growth of im­ports and ex­ports, and ac­cel­er­ated the trans­fer of pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity. Ma­te­ri­als and goods from both home and abroad are there­fore mov­ing to Chengdu more quickly, as well as cap­i­tal, tal­ented hu­man re­sources, tech­nol­ogy and in­for­ma­tion.

In Septem­ber this year, five coun­tries — Italy, France, the Nether­lands, Is­rael and Moldova — lo­cated their na­tional com­mod­ity pavil­ions at the Chengdu In­ter­na­tional Rail­way Port in Qing­bai­jiang, part of the China (Sichuan) Pi­lot Free Trade Zone.

These pavil­ions will serve as a com­pre­hen­sive ex­change plat­form that in­te­grates eco­nomic, cul­tural, ed­u­ca­tional, tourist, ex­hi­bi­tion and in­vest­ment ser­vices. In the com­ing three years, Qing­bai­jiang plans to de­velop a clus­ter of 36 such pavil­ions.

The Chengdu In­ter­na­tional Rail­way Port had in­tro­duced 20 ma­jor projects by the end of Septem­ber this year, with to­tal in­vest­ment of 20.3 bil­lion yuan ($2.93 bil­lion).

As one of the three parts of the China (Sichuan) Pi­lot Free Trade Zone, the rail­way port has made 43 re­form achievements since its launch in April 2017. This year, for in­stance, a ser­vice of­fice of the Chengdu arbitration com­mis­sion in the in­ter­na­tional com­merce di­vi­sion opened at the port, help­ing com­pa­nies en­hance their ca­pac­ity in pre­vent­ing and deal­ing with in­ter­na­tional dis­putes, and im­prov­ing the port’s in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic and trade en­vi­ron­ment.

As an avi­a­tion hub in China’s south­west­ern ar­eas, Chengdu is con­stantly im­prov­ing its in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion net­work. The city has opened six di­rect, reg­u­lar in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger flights and two in­ter­na­tional cargo routes this year.

Chengdu cur­rently op­er­ates a to­tal of 111 in­ter­na­tional air routes, and will start a di­rect flight to Copen­hagen in Den­mark on Dec 10.

It is also bustling about the con­struc­tion of a new mega avi­a­tion project — Chengdu Tianfu In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which is sched­uled to be ready in 2020, mak­ing Chengdu the third city on the Chi­nese main­land that has two in­ter­na­tional air­ports, af­ter Bei­jing and Shang­hai. In 2025, the new air­port is ex­pected to han­dle 40 mil­lion pas­sen­gers and 700,000 met­ric tons of cargo an­nu­ally.

In June this year, Chengdu made a plan to build a “Silk Road” in the air and in­ter­na­tional land-sea trans­porta­tion channels based on the city’s air­ports and rail­way ports.

Ac­cord­ing to the plan, Chengdu’s ad­vanced global air net­work will con­sist of busi­ness routes cov­er­ing 48 core avi­a­tion hubs and eco­nomic cen­ters around the world, as well as all-cargo routes di­rectly link­ing to 14 key lo­gis­tics cities such as Frank­furt, Chicago, Cincin­nati and Am­s­ter­dam, and an ad­di­tional 30 high­qual­ity routes serv­ing cul­tural and tourist ex­changes.

It will also ac­cel­er­ate the pace in build­ing seven in­ter­na­tional rail­ways and five sea-rail in­ter­modal trans­porta­tion channels, in a bid to make Chengdu the hub of the New Eurasian Land Bridge that links the At­lantic and Pa­cific oceans.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Pas­sen­gers show their air tick­ets at Chengdu Shuan­gliu Air­port in late Septem­ber, when the air­port launches its first di­rect flight to Tel Aviv, Is­rael.

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