Shandong steadfastly responds to Belt and Road Initiative

(| Updated : 2018-05-16

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In recent years, with the deepening of economic and trade relations between Shandong and countries along the Belt and Road, more and more companies in Shandong have expanded their overseas presence with the support of the Belt and Road Initiative, as demonstrated by Creat. Their cooperation, which at first was mostly in the field of energy, has evolved into free exchanges of products, talents, goods, services and so on between different regions. In 2017, the whole province made an actual investment of 10.06 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) in these countries, which has increased by 81.7 percent with year-on-year growth of 20.3 percent. A group of influential landmark projects were also put into operation. For example, Wanhua Chemical Group invested 1.26 billion euros to take over a Hungarian company, Borsod, which is by far the biggest investment of China in Central and Eastern Europe, and Hengyuan Petrochemical Group successfully merged with Shell Malaysia -- the first overseas acquisition in the refining industry by a Shandong Province enterprise.

The marine economy is where Shandong occupies an advantageous position. In order to strengthen cooperation in marine economy with countries along the Belt and Road, Shandong has accelerated its planned construction of a marine cooperation platform in East Asia. A series of activities including the Huangdao Forum have been successfully hosted to advance exchanges and cooperation, and a medium for practical marine cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan, and Korea (10+3) is coming into being. Shandong has also actively promoted strategic cooperation in ports, and more shipping lines between Qingdao Port and 15 other ports have been opened. Since 2016, there have been 12 new through lines to the Middle East, India and Pakistan, and South-East Asia, and the number of amity ports has grown to 21. Moreover, Qingdao Port has initiated an East Asia Seaport Alliance with the joint efforts of 10 other ports which include Dubai Port of the United Arab Emirates. Qingdao Mail-Ship Homeport has been designated a national trial area for developing mail-ship tourism. The “Belt and Road” Qingdao shipping index issued by the Qingdao National Shipping Service Center has become an indicator of economic and trade relations between Shandong and various countries.

The Qingdao Sino-Euro Train was a huge step for Shandong’s integration into the “Belt and Road.” Since its operations started on July 1, 2015, Shandong’s move towards the west has been ceaseless. Based on major channels, Shandong in recent years has constructed a multi-terminal transportation system that connects the economic corridor of the New Eurasian Land Bridge. Nine cities including Qingdao, Weifang and Linyi are involved in the Sino-Asia/Euro Train. A group of significant transportation projects, including the Jinan-Qingdao High-Speed Railway, the South Shandong High-Speed Railway, the Shijiazhuang-Jinan High-Speed Railway, the Longkou-Yantai Railway and others, have been accomplished or are under construction. Moreover, Yantai Penglai International Airport and Rizhao-Shanzihe Airport have been put into operation, which brings the total number of civil airports to 9 with 10 new intercontinental airlines opened. Ferry transport between Shandong and Liaoning has been listed in the fourth batch of national pilot programs of Drop and Pull Transport, and a mail-ship route to South-East Asia has been opened to traffic. Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai and Rizhao have set up six Sino-Korea channels for joint rail and marine transportation, which initiates a new transport pattern that crosses countries and employs diversified means. The four cities have achieved an accumulative trade volume of 800 million dollars.

Mutual economic benefit should always be accompanied by cultural exchanges and mutual learning. Cultural exchange is essential to the “Silk Road Spirit” and is also the unswerving mission of the SCO. While maintaining close economic and trade relations with other countries, Shandong has made great efforts to promote the essence of Shandong culture to gain more international influence. At present, Shandong has formed 49 sister city relationships in 22 countries along the “Belt and Road” as well as 33 friendly cooperation city relationships in 15 countries. Under the joint efforts of Shandong and the Ministry of Culture, a Chinese cultural center has been established in Belgrade, Serbia, the first of its kind in the Balkan region. 

It should also be noted that while expanding its market along the Belt and Road Shandong has innovated a new development pattern in which companies set up separate zones overseas so as to realize B to B services. At present, Shandong has constructed nine overseas industrial parks in countries along the Belt and Road; four of them, or one fifth of the number in all of China, are national parks. The EUBA Economic Zone established by Haier Group in Pakistan was the first national industrial park founded overseas, and Haier has become the top brand of household appliances in Pakistan. The Central European Trade and Logistics Cooperation Zone constructed by Dihao Group in Hungary is now home to more than 180 companies. Besides, increased participation in major engineering projects has become a highlight of Shandong’s integration into the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2017, completed projects had a total business volume of 47.33 billion yuan, an annual increase of 11.2 percent, and there have been 69 newly signed contracts that are worth more than 10 million dollars. Now the overseas engineering projects of Shandong are spreading over six major economic corridors, and constitute a “Shandong Group” among overseas enterprises.

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