Landlocked region of China eyes transport links
The first direct China-Europe freight train linking Guizhou province and Moscow departs Guiyang in November. (Photo by Xinhua)

Guizhou province, a mountainous area with no access to the sea and without shared international borders, serves as an important transportation hub in Southwest China. It possesses unique geographical advantages to further develop its transportation network.

In the latest guideline released by the State Council-the country’s Cabinet-in late January, the government provided clear direction for the strategic positioning of Guizhou as a new inland highland to develop the opening-up economy, and gave favorable policy support to push forward the development of the province.

“Next, Guizhou will further promote trade and investment by strengthening its cooperation with other regional partners and actively participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” said Zheng Haishu, an official with the inland opening-up division at Guizhou Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

The RCEP agreement, signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries in November 2020, covers a market of 2.2 billion people with a combined economic size of $26.2 trillion, or 30 percent of the world’s GDP. Under the partnership, members will further ease market access standards, cut tariffs and offer reciprocal policies.

“Guizhou will also build itself into an international database hub, and consolidate and enhance its geographic position in China to connect land and sea transportation routes. Guizhou will also promote the building of its airports as gateways and actively cooperate with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle,” Zheng said.

In September, the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic regulator, unveiled a plan to promote the high-quality development of the new western land-sea corridor during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

The construction of the new western land-sea corridor has been fast and effective. Last year, the annual volume of goods transported through the corridor increased 57.5 percent over 2020, which has injected new vitality into the building of a dual-circulation development pattern of the country, according to the provincial government.

Guizhou said it will build itself into a transportation hub for economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as a transportation hub that connects with the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle and the Greater Bay Area.

“Based on the demand of regional economic and social development, Guizhou will advance the preliminary work of some local projects in an orderly manner and start construction work in time,” said Li Xudong, head of the comprehensive transportation division at the Guizhou Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

“Meanwhile, Guizhou will do a good job in planning some long-term projects and incorporate some railway projects with mature conditions into the planning, and thus strengthen the positioning of Guizhou in the new western land-sea corridor. Specifically, we will focus on promoting renovation of the Guiyang-Guangzhou high-speed railway, and the railway connecting Huangtong in Guizhou and Baise in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region,” Li said.

By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the total railway network in the province is expected to exceed 4,500 kilometers, including about 2,000 km of high-speed railways. By 2025, the total length of expressways is foreseen to exceed 9,000 km in Guizhou. The province will also complete the building of airports in Weining and Panzhou by 2025, according to the local government.