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Guangxi goes all out for 'Maritime Silk Road'

Time:2014-09-18  Source:China Daily  Author:Yang Ziman

Trade links and initiatives with neighboring Southeast Asia

Following the call by central authorities to build the 21 Century Maritime Silk Road, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region government is taking a range of measures to boost economic cooperation with Southeast Asian countries.

"We will deepen industrial cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, particularly in port-related industries, manufacturing, machine building, marine industries, mining, agriculture, tourism and finance," said Chen Wu, chairman of Guangxi.

Located on the southwest border of China neighboring Vietnam and facing the South Sea, Guangxi is the only administrative region in the country connected by both land and maritime routes with ASEAN countries.

The region has been an important hub in trade between China and overseas countries since ancient times.

The ancient maritime Silk Road had its origins during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). It began in Fuzhou, Fujian province, headed south to Southeast Asia then turned west to Africa and Europe, helping Chinese merchants move silk, porcelain and tea to overseas markets.

The 21 Century Maritime Silk Road proposal was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 during a visit to Indonesia in October to promote interconnection and create an economic belt between China and ASEAN countries.

In the blueprint for reviving the maritime Silk Road, the government of Guangxi has outlined five measures to enhance the connection, according to Chen.

He said land and maritime passages connecting Guangxi and ASEAN countries will include maritime routes, express highways, high-speed railways, air routes and optical fiber communication cables.

The 3,800-km Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor is already under construction connecting Vientiane, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore together with 150 million people living along the route.

He said industrial parks will be built along the Maritime Silk Road based on the current models of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park in Guangxi and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park based in Malaysia.

The two new industrial parks, initiated by the leaders of the two countries in 2011, have brought in projects in biomedicine and processing of grain, oil and food, setting an example for other industrial parks to be built in the future, said Chen.

He said another measure is building trade and logistics facilities to ensure the free flow of goods between China and the ASEAN countries.

The Guangxi government has vowed to enhance the development of the Nanning China-ASEAN Commodity Exchange that includes grain and oil, honey, pearls, tropical fruit, fertilizers and wood.

Moreover, the pilot zone for comprehensive financial reforms in border areas established in 2013 will try initiatives to facilitate financial services, according to Chen.

He added that innovation in cross-border finance will be encouraged to explore different ways of making the renminbi exchangeable in capital accounts.

Cross-border renminbi settlement in the pilot zone already ranks first among the 12 administrative regions in the west of China.

Chen said the Guangxi government will also boost people-to-people exchanges along the Maritime Silk Road.

It plans to found a China-ASEAN joint university and other educational centers to attract and cultivate young talent.

A series of collaborative projects in education, public health, culture, sports and poverty alleviation will be developed to boost ties in the future, said the official.