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 Build a New Starting Point of the Silk Road Economic Belt

By Lou Qinjian, Governor of ShaanxiProvince

(Published in and People’s Daily on August 26, 2014)


The strategic concept put forward by President Xi Jinping on jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt definitely points out the strategic emphasis of China's opening up westwards. It is of great importance for the provinces along the line to expand opening up and accelerate development. According to the spirits of the CPC Central Committee, the CPC Committee and Government of Shaanxi Province have positioned to build a new starting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt by analyzing the situation and our advantages. With respect to the ancient Silk Road, the new starting point has richer and more profound meaning. It is a transport hub to communicate with the inland, EurasianContinentalBridge and maritime Silk Road, a favorable region to accept industrial transfer from the eastern China as well as the whole world, the largest logistics center of the Silk Road Economic Belt and a major platform to integrate the rich and diverse culture of Asia and Europe.

We shall strive to create a three-dimensional transport hub.

The Silk Road Economic Belt is based on the road. The ancient Silk Road kept extending in the explorationhowever, as regards to the Silk Road Economic Belt today, we should take initiative to improve the traffic conditions as the first step. As China's major transportation hub, Shaanxi will accelerate construction of the highways, railways and airports so as to give a full play to the advantage of position radiating to the all directions.

We shall enhance access and radiation of Shaanxi section of the EurasianContinentalBridge. Shaanxi’s expressway network has been basically completed, with a total mileage of more than 4300 km. According to the ideas for the network thickness, expansion and increase, we will further improve its system so as to exceed over 5000 km mileage by the end of China’s Twelfth Five Year Plan. As regards to the railway construction, we will be based on the principles of "strong hub for passengers and cargo capacity expansion", and substantially increase the operating mileage, improve the comprehensive service capabilities, and strive to build Xi’an into a point to sea from west to east, and a convergence point from east to west.

We shall accelerate the construction of "Air Silk Road." Xi'an Xianyang International Airport has opened 242 domestic and international routes, with a passenger throughput of 26 million passengers in the last year, but it still cannot fully meet the requirements of development, especially our cargo flight is relatively weak. Accordingly, in the last year we proposed Kazakhstan and other countries to jointly build "Air Silk Road", and have received a positive response. We want to ride on the momentum, adhere to building the national hub airports and regional ones in the province, developing passenger and cargo routes and improve service support capabilities simultaneously, developing airport economic development and the aviation industry simultaneously, strengthen the construction of aviation Direct Channel with the Central Asian countries, so as to lay a solid foundation for the "Air Silk Road" construction.

We shall actively explore a new model of the inland free trade.

The Silk Road started in business, flourished in the trade. At present, Shaanxi’s foreign investment and foreign trade are still below the national average level; hence we must follow the requirements of "trade flow", and further renew our system and mechanism so as to expand channels to develop foreign trade in inland.

We shall play our special customs supervision function. The numbers of special customs supervision zones rank front in China; they play a prominent role in optimizing the investment environment, undertaking industrial transfer, developing the cross-border trade and other aspects. We will make good use of China’s policies, integrating Xi'an Comprehensive Bonded Zone, Xi'an Export Processing Zone A and Zone B, Xi'an Hi-tech Comprehensive Bonded Zone and the aviation industry comprehensive Free Trade Zone which is being declared, Xixian New Area District Airport New Town Bonded Logistics Center, especially strengthening contacts and functions of Xi'an International Port Airport District and Airport New Town.

Accelerate the construction of a fair, uniform and efficient regulatory services system. We shall actively explore negative list model of utilizing foreign capital management, matching with the world in such fields as finance, processing, logistics and billing, creating an international, market-oriented, easy and convenient business environment, so that the logistics is smoother.

Facilitate the trade through convenient customs clearance. We shall pay close attention to the implementation of supporting measures for 72 hours’ transit visa-free service at the port of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport, strengthen cooperation with Tianjin, Qingdao, Lianyungang and other port cities, optimize the customs clearance, so as to become one declaration, one inspection and one release.

Continue to improve the parks’ infrastructure. We shall focus on building the "China - Central Asia Economic Cooperation Zone", featured export base and the five countries of Central Asia energy trading platform, guiding foreign trade export, logistics and strategic and new industries to develop in the area.

Coordinate to promote the structural optimization and export-oriented economic development.
  Facing with deepening economic globalization and the reality of tight constraints of resources and environments, we must make full use of both international and domestic markets and resources to grow and cultivate new pillar industries, accelerate the construction of modern industrial system with Shaanxi characteristics, so as to better carry out the economic cooperation with the countries along the Silk Road.

Promote optimization of the industrial structure. Oil-gas equivalent and raw coal output ranking front in China is advantages of Shaanxi. Over the years, the energy and chemical industry has supported the sustained economic growth of Shaanxi. For a long time in the future, the status of the pillar industries of oil and coal is irreplaceable. We shall consider China's energy security from a strategic perspective, focusing on the sustainable development to build the national high-energy chemical base. At the same time, we will give full play to science and education, personnel and other advantages, actively cultivate new pillar industries, such as electronic information, equipment manufacturing and biomedicine. We will take brand, R & D and scale advantages, such as heavy-duty trucks to build China’s new energy automobile production base and a unique special vehicle demonstration base. On the basis of the aviation industry gathering for 30% of the R & D capacity, we will accelerate the development of aviation supporting industries. We will fulfill historical responsibilities of the rich cultural resources of Shaanxi, strengthening the integration of culture with tourism, science and technology, finance and other industries, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the cultural industry. We shall seize the opportunity that Xi'an has been determined China’s logistics node and Baoji, Yulin and Xianyang have been listed in the cities of China’s logistics park layout so as to establish such four logistic systems as manufacturing logistics, commodities logistics, agricultural logistics and bonded logistics.

Develop the export-oriented economy. The less oriented economy is a short board of Shaanxi development. The countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt are rich in mineral, energy, agriculture and tourism resources, both in terms of fostering new pillar industries and the transformation of traditional industries, Shaanxi and theses countries have broad prospects for cooperation. Currently, there are over 10 projects under negotiation. We will further promote the economic cooperation according to the principles of complementary advantages and common development. In the energy sector, we shall jointly explore and develop the oil and gas resources, and build high-end oil and gas chemical projects. In the advanced manufacturing field, we shall support China’s key enterprises to build featured industrial park with Kazakhstan’s counterparts. In intelligent manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and other areas, we shall also conduct cooperation. In modern agriculture, relying on the agricultural high-tech Industries demonstration zone, we shall build a dry land agriculture international cooperation center oriented to the Central Asia, and jointly implement water-saving agriculture, breeding and biotechnology and other projects. In the financial sector, we shall accelerate the construction of financial business district, set about establishing inland offshore financial market and cooperation development fund with Central Asia.

Continuously deepen the cultural and educational exchanges with the countries along the Silk Road.
  Cultures will become more colorful because of exchanges, while civilizations more ample due to learning from each other. The civilizations of the countries along the ancient Silk Road, such as the ones of India, Persia, Greek, Roma and China not only have a long history but also possess different characteristics; in the past 2,000 years, they have been interacting each other and absorbed each other’s nutrients and making important contributions to human progress. As a starting point for an important birthplace of Chinese civilization and the ancient
Silk Road, Shaanxi has a long history of cultural exchanges with the Central Asian countries. We should give full play to the advantages and carry out various forms of cultural and educational exchanges and further promote mutual understanding and mutual trust between peoples.

Take the success of the Silk Road transnational joint heritage application as a good opportunity and further enhance the cultural cohesion. We shall work together with the countries along the line and other China’s provinces to protect and study the cultural relics, carefully run such sites protection engineering as Han Chang'an, Tang Chang'an, and build the projects, such as the Eurasian cultural museum complex, the Silk RoadPark, the Silk Road charming street, Xi'an central culture and business district.

Thoroughly explore the Silk Road culture, and comprehensively conduct pragmatic cooperation in such fields as tourism. We shall make full use of Shaanxi’s advantages in heritage and cultural resources, integrate the history and reality, and vigorously promote the economic belt’s culture, tourism, trade and other exchanges and cooperation. West Market of Chang'an City in Tang Dynasty was an important place for international economic exchanges. Xi'an Tang West Market built by Xi’an city near the original site has become a complex with the functions of heritage protection, culture show, commerce trade and so on, playing a positive role in publicizing the Silk Road culture and expanding business travel industry. We will promote the model, sincerely building such tourist areas of historical and cultural scenic spots as "Han Dynasty Charming", opening a number of cross-border tourist route of the Silk Road, so as to create the world popular tourist brands.

Make extensive educational cooperation, and lay a solid foundation for the people goodwill. Currently, there are 1200 Central Asian students in Shaanxi, accounting for 7.5% of the ones in China. From now on, we will conscientiously sum up the experience of training the Kazakhstan Donggan youth in the latest years, build the Central Asian education base and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization University, Xi’an branch; establish the alliance with the universities of the Central Asian countries, help Xibei University to establish partnership with Samarkand University, and set up scholarship for foreign students, so as to continuously improve the education cooperation with a focus on young people.

Effectively enhance the economic and social carrying capacity.

Chang’an, the ancient metropolis with a population of over one million, has brightened the world famous Silk Road stretching over 7000 km, so today we also cannot complete the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt without the towns’ support. We must actively accelerate the new urbanization according to the requirements of people first, synchronous four modernizations, scientific layout, green development and cultural heritage.

Build Shaanxi’s urban group for the New Silk Road. Shaanxi’s urban layout is not quite reasonable at present because of an insufficient number of big and middle cities and poor conditions of small towns. In order to change this situation, we should make the urban group the main form of our urbanization. The basic objective is to have Xi’an as a large core, develop Baoji, Yulin, Hanzhong and Weinan as growth poles, the line along the Longhai Railway and Lianhuo expressway as a horizontal axis, the line along Baomao expressway as the vertical axis, the line along the Great Wall in Northern Shaanxi and the one along the ten-day expressway in the Southern Shaanxi as the two belts, such expressways as Jingkun, Fuyin, Shanghai and Shaanxi as the corridor, so as to form an urban space structure called “ One Core , Four Poles, Two Axes, Two Belts and Three Corridors”. Through the development of the urban group with a rational layout, big cities upgrading small ones and function complementation of town group so as to lead the Northwest China and serve the New Silk Road.

Innovate in the urban development model for the integration of urban and rural development. Xixian New Zone’s development model of modern garden city has been fully affirmed by the State, the State Council specifically asked Shaanxi to pilot the innovative urban development, and build it into “the important fulcrum of the Silk Road Economic Belt “and "the new urbanization model with Chinese characteristics”. We should conscientiously sum up experiences, promote Shaanxi's new urbanization construction and urban and rural development through the typical model. We should adhere to reasonable control of the towns’ development borders, conservation and intensive use of land, overall planning of the cities’ water system of Guanzhong Plain, protecting the towns’ environment and cultural characteristics. Besides, we shall strengthen the urban infrastructure construction, integrate the relocation and poverty alleviation and development, development of small towns’ construction and new rural communities, orderly change the transferring rural population into citizens, and form an urban service system matching the new starting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

  Work hard to build a mutually beneficial cooperation platform.

Build a mutually beneficial cooperation platform to comprehensively strengthen pragmatic cooperation. We shall seize every opportunity to actively prepare for international meetings and other activities, and create more economic opportunities for the countries along the Silk Road economic belt.

Rely on the permanent site to build the dialogue platform for the governments. In 2005, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held the First Euro-Asia Economic Forum in Xi'an, and decided Xi'an to be the permanent venue. We should take this as a good opportunity to expand the Roundtable Conference for Mayors along the Silk Road Economic Belt, so as to promote Asian and European countries to establish consular institutions in Shaanxi, and strengthen ties and cooperation between the governments of the countries along the economic belt.

Set up a business cooperation platform with the support of brand expos. The focus is to run the 18-year-old Investment and Trade Forum for Cooperation between East and West China and the 20-year-old China Yangling Agricultural Hi-tech Fair. We shall continuously innovate in the organized mechanism, richen the contents, improve our service levels, so as to change them into a high-end, international economic and trade cooperation platform.

Build a multi-cultural collaboration platform for culture exchanges. Currently, 2014 China Xi’an Silk Road International Tourism Fair and the First Xi'an Silk Road International Film Festival approved by the state are stepping up preparations. We will organize a number of performing arts, exhibitions, photography, literature, folk songs and other activities; carry out all aspects of the service to run them well.