Interview: BRI propels inland Chinese municipality toward forefront of opening up: vice mayor

(Xinhua) 17:00, October 09, 2023

CHONGQING, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Through actively participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chongqing Municipality in southwest China is moving quickly toward the forefront of the country's opening up, Chen Mingbo, vice mayor of Chongqing, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

With a population of 32.13 million, Chongqing's development was once hindered by its geographical location deep in the hinterland, requiring imports and exports to travel long distances to and from China's east coast.

Over the past decade, Chongqing has effectively aligned its involvement in the BRI with the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle and the Yangtze River economic belt, among other national strategies, striving to establish an international logistics hub in inland China, according to Chen.

As one of the key projects under the BRI, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by provincial-level regions in western China and ASEAN members, with Chongqing serving as its operating center.

Since its launch in 2017, the project has connected 68 Chinese cities with 473 ports in 120 countries and regions, facilitating the transportation of over 980 types of goods.

In partnership with Chengdu, capital of the neighboring Sichuan Province, Chongqing has launched the China-Europe freight train service with routes covering more than 100 cities in Europe and Asia.

Thanks to the growing connectivity of infrastructure under the BRI, Chongqing has better integrated into the global market and developed a more open economy, said Chen.

In 2022, the city's trade volume with BRI partners reached 333.14 billion yuan (about 46.41 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 1.7 times in nine years, while 319 Fortune 500 companies invested in Chongqing during these nine years.

Leveraging its strengths in industries such as automobiles and electronic information, the city is actively exploring trade opportunities in BRI markets, especially in ASEAN countries.

The city is also advancing the construction of a pilot free trade zone where various institutional innovations have been implemented to facilitate trade, investment, and port clearance, among others, according to the vice mayor.

Looking ahead, Chen said that Chongqing will continue to consolidate its trade advantages and build mutually beneficial industrial and supply chains with BRI countries.

It will also give full play to its role in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, further upgrading infrastructure and optimizing the intermodal transport system to enhance trade efficiency.

"In the coming years, we will vigorously expand economic and trade cooperation and exchanges and strive to play a leading role in advancing BRI cooperation, so as to better serve and integrate into China's new development pattern," said Chen.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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