Observe: China’s central region accelerates integration into Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Employees at a company located in Pingxiang City in China’s Jiangxi Province worked at full speed to produce post insulator products to complete the growing orders from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“Our traditional market was greatly affected by COVID-19, so we started to exploit new markets and have witnessed a year-on-year increase of export volume with Belt and Road countries,” said Zhang Xuchang, chairman of Sinoma Jiangxi Insulator and Electricity Co., Ltd.

The company’s business expansion mirrors the energetic development of enterprises in China’s central region amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Jiangxi’s import and export volume with Belt and Road countries and regions reached 170.62 billion yuan (about 26.05 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 42.5 percent of the province’s total foreign trade.

Amid the booming trade with the Belt and Road countries, more and more enterprises in the central region are going abroad to accelerate integration into the BRI.

JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd., a leading solar module manufacturer in Jiangxi, set up a production base and research and development center in Malaysia, and over 80 percent of its 6,000 employees are locals.

“Our photovoltaic products have reached almost all Belt and Road countries. Our projects have not only created a large number of job opportunities but also brought advanced technologies and research and development concepts to them,” said Qian Jing, vice president of the company.

“Such cooperation projects have brought tangible benefits to people from countries along the Belt and Road,” said Xie Yiping, director of the Jiangxi provincial department of commerce, adding that “China’s central region will give full play to its geographical advantage to promote high-quality development of the BRI through a higher-level opening-up.”

Known as a key transport hub, Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, is located at the intersection of the Beijing-Guangzhou and Lianyungang-Lanzhou railways. To enhance its connection with European countries, the city has built an inland port to handle the China-Europe freight trains.

According to the Zhengzhou International Hub Development and Construction Co., Ltd., which operates freight trains linking Zhengzhou and Europe, the number of freight train trips via the port jumped from 13 in 2013 to 1,126 in 2020, with the cargo value soaring from 50 million U.S. dollars in 2013 to 4.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

“The market shares of the China-Europe freight trains have seen steady growth since 2013,” said Guo Xinnian, deputy general manager of the company.

Now the China-Europe freight trains via Zhengzhou have a service radius of 1,500 km, covering nearly three-quarters of the country’s land area and providing services for nearly 6,000 domestic and overseas partners.

“In recent years, an increasing number of international logistics companies have set up their offices in Zhengzhou,” said Tian Le, with the Henan Seaton International Logistics Co., Ltd.

According to the Zhengzhou International Hub Development and Construction Co., Ltd., more cities in the central region will join the China-Europe freight train project, which will help improve services regarding the BRI and make the trade tie between the central region and Europe smoother.