Themed as “Common Destiny, New Visions of Cooperation,” the Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road has opened in the National Convention Center. In a keynote speech delivered to the forum, Hu Heping, Governor of Shaanxi Province says that his province will further expand and deepen its opening up to the world during the 13th Five-Year Plan and build Shaanxi into a major Silk Road Gateway of five centers.
Hu Heping says President Xi's vision of jointly building the “One Belt, One Road” has combined the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation with the dreams of the nations along the route for a better life. This vision has created a new direction for China to open up from all directions. It also provides the world a new opportunity to achieve regional prosperity and world peace and development.
Shaanxi has been a gateway to China since ancient times. The region maintained ties with foreign nations as early as the Western Zhou Dynasty 3,000 years ago. 21 hundred years ago, in the Western Han Dynasty, the Chinese envoy Zhang Qian mapped out a route from the Han capital Chang’an to Central Asia. That route has since achieved its fame as the Silk Road linking Asia to Europe. 8 centuries later in the Tang Dynasty, the great capital of the Tang Empire was the world's biggest metropolis, home to 1 million residents and among whom one in every ten is a foreigner. The implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” will undoubtedly put Shaanxi at the forefront of China's opening to the world again.
The governor says that over the past three years his province has been actively seeking its role in the “One Road, One Belt” initiative. The interactions with the Belt and Road nations have integrated Shaanxi into the global economy in unprecedented ways. Hu believes Shaanxi has unique advantages and using these advantages could help make Shaanxi the five centers of the new Silk Road Economic Belt.
The first center of the five is a transportation and logistics center due to Shaanxi's geographic location. Located at the geometric center of China, Shaanxi is naturally endowed to be a center of transportation. After years of development, Shaanxi is already a connection hub for the Belt through overland and aviation transportation as well as a digital expressway. The Shaanxi government plans to extend its highway by 1,500 kilometers and its railway by 3,500 kilometers in the next five years. The province also plans to invest 350 billion yuan in making Xi’an city China's first inland port by connecting the Xi’an airport logistics hub with the new railway station and further linking these transportation hubs to those of the coastal regions. All these investments will greatly facilitate international commerce and trade.
The second center is an international production center by way of coordinating and integrating different industries. Shaanxi is among the top few Chinese provinces in energy production and equipment manufacturing. At present, the province has brought in South Korea, Russia and Kazakhstan in building joint-venture industrial parks in the sectors of electronics manufacturing, aviation and modern farming. Next, the province will continue accelerating the implementation of existing projects on the one hand. On the other hand, it will promote the coordination and integration of the four major industries of building construction, railway and highway construction and power construction so that by joining forces, these industries can participate in projects overseas.
The third center is a technological innovation center powered by the Shaanxi's strong education and research resources. Shaanxi is home to 96 higher education institutions and over 1,000 sci-tech research institutes. The province has an enrolled student body of over one million and there are 1,1 million technicians of various kinds working in different industries in the province. With such resources, the province will continue promoting production-oriented technology cooperation with overseas partners. At the same time, it will deepen international cooperation in the fields of training and education. It hopes that bilateral and multilateral collaboration in training and education will help establish the province as a center of technological innovation in western China, a solid source of human resources and a center for Silk Road cultural studies. Experiments in inter-collegiate leaguing are hoped to result in news ways of nurturing talent.
The fourth center is a center for international tourism. Shaanxi is one of the major birthplaces of the Chinese civilization. The city of Xi’an had been the capital city for over 11 hundred years of 13 dynasties, including the renowned Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang dynasties. This rich history has left many an invaluable legacy. In recent years, the province has successfully hosted the Silk Road Expo, the Silk Road International Film Festival and Art Festival, the Silk Road International Tourism Expo and the Silk Road Internet Conference. Currently, the province offers two major tours. One is the Silk Road Destination Cultural Corridor, the other being the Qinling Mountain scenic and cultural tour. Many other tour options are being enriched in their service facilities and cultural input.
The fifth center is a regional financial center built on innovation and cooperation. Shaanxi province is now armed with a multi-layered financial services system and it hosts many famed domestic as well as international financial service providers. The province plans to further open the doors of its finance sector in the next few years. It is now in negotiation with the BRICS Development Bank, International Revival Bank and Asia Development for them to open their branches or representative offices in Shaanxi. Steps have also been taken to build a Silk Road energy trading and payment settlement center. Offshore finance, RMB cross-border swaps and an international financing online information platform are also in place to help serve international commerce and trade.
Governor Hu closes his remarks by saying that reflecting the change of times the world has now reached new consensus that communication should be strengthened, common challenges should be faced together, and in order to achieve mutual benefit, the notion and practice of zero-sum game should be discarded. Lastly, he welcomes guest from home and abroad to visit Shaanxi, explore business opportunities there and join the great undertaking of the New Silk Road.