China’s plan to build a global transport and logistics network will establish a safe and stable system expected to boost trade and economic development around the world, according to officials and experts. China’s Cabinet, earlier this year stated that by 2035, China will significantly improve its international transport and logistics network, including land, railway, maritime, air and mail routes.
The document proposed transforming about 20 cities into international hubs, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province as well as Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.
The hubs will include railway centers in Beijing and Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, ports in Shanghai and Dalian, Liaoning province and flight hubs in Shanghai and Chengdu, Sichuan province.
Forty international mail centers will also be built to handle post and parcels from around the world, the policy document said.
Logistics networks will be established to ensure parcels are delivered to neighboring countries in two days and reach major international cities within three days.
“The guideline sets a goal to provide a safe, open and stable international logistics system,” said Li Xiaopeng, the transport minister. “The next move is to build a comprehensive transport network featuring land, maritime, rail and air shipments and also cultivate more modern logistics companies.”
Li Xiaopeng and Yang Chuantang, Party chief of the Ministry of Transport, said in a co-authored article published in the guideline’s reference book that China will continue to promote infrastructure connectivity around the world and make international transportation more convenient. The safety and reliability of the global transport network and logistics supply chain system will also be enhanced.
China has already built a strong air and maritime transport network around the world, which will serve as the foundation to further promote global connectivity.
By 2019, seven out of the world’s top 10 maritime ports handling shipping containers by volume were Chinese, according to the reference book.
China’s international air network spans 167 cities in 65 countries. Thirty-nine airports in China handle more than 10 million passenger trips every year. The freight train service between China and Europe reaches 92 cities in 21 European countries.
“It is not only China’s ambition to develop an international transport network, but also a goal shared by the world,” said Fan Yijiang, researcher of the National Development and Reform Commission’s Institute of Comprehensive Transportation.
“The guideline proposes to build a stable, open and safe international logistics supply chain system and improve the global transport network, which will boost the development of China and the world,” he said.
Fan added that the world wants access to China’s markets and will participate in building the transport network.
The majority of China’s transport network relies on the maritime sector, supported by air transportation and other modes, which can take Chinese goods around the world. Land transport connects China with neighboring countries, Fan said.
“On the one hand, some infrastructure has to be built. But more importantly, precise efforts should be made to improve ‘soft connectivity’ to improve the quality of service and the efficiency of the transport organizations,” Fan said.
Land and railway routes between China and neighboring countries use different standards and rules for road and rail, which can delay operations and make transportation less effective. For instance, some neighboring countries use different rail gauges, which require solutions such as transfer trains at the border.
Fan also noted that the guideline had selected a few metropolises and city clusters that already have strong foundations to further develop into international transport hubs.
Yang Xin, chief analyst of the transport, logistics and infrastructure sector for the China International Capital Corp, said the country’s transport sector is deeply connected with the world and is ready to play a more active role in global trade and connectivity.
He also noted the different infrastructure standards in other countries may result in wasted time and energy when transporting goods across the border.
For example, nonstandardized shipping containers can lead to delays in loading and unloading in different countries.
Insufficient hubs to support different modes of transport are another hurdle restraining shipping efficiency, Yang said.
Different levels of information technology, such as tracking cargo, also present difficulties in cross-border logistics. A CICC report said improved international transport and logistics networks will boost China’s exports and create opportunities for logistics firms.
Express delivery giant SF Express said in a statement that the international sector was the company’s fastest growing business segment last year.