Business / Economy

Rizhao maps expansion of transport links

By Zhao Ruixue (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-18 09:25

Rizhao maps expansion of transport links

The Third China Central Asia Cooperation Forum was held in Rizhao, Shandong province, on Tuesday. Rizhao plans to develop itself into a key transportation hub, as well as a trade, financial and culture-based tourism center. [Photo/Xinhua]

Officials in Rizhao in Shandong province are aiming to develop the coastal city into a key transportation hub, as well as a trade, financial and culture-based tourism center.

The city, which is around 620 kilometers north of Shanghai, occupies an important position on both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road-two ancient trade routes now being rejuvenated under China's key Belt and Road Initiative, said Rizhao's Party chief Yang Jun.

The initiative was launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping to further open up international markets for China.

Rizhao is also the starting point of the new Eurasian Continental Bridge, sometimes called the New Silk Road-a rail transport route for moving freight and passengers overland from Pacific seaports in the Russian Far East and China, to European seaports including Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

"Rizhao can act as a transportation hub for Central Asian countries looking for better sea links, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road extending to the West," said Yang on Tuesday at the Third China-Central Asia Cooperation Forum held at Rizhao.

"Rizhao might be 4,600 kilometers away from the Central Asian countries, but the Belt and Road Initiative has brought us all closer together, allowing the chance for closer economic and cultural cooperation, despite the distance," Yang said.

Rizhao's port is linked by rail to countries including Mongolia, Russia and other Central Asian countries, and offers services to more than 200 ports around the world.

The new logistics park covers 120,000 square metres and had 60 million yuan ($9.67 million) in funding from the city's own port authority, Rizhao Port Co Ltd, and five companies from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

"The park will add an edge to Rizhao Port's competitiveness, and I predict it will result in a huge leap in throughput," said Du Chuanzhi, president of Rizhao Port, which is the biggest shareholder.

Shakhrat Nuryshev, the Kazakhstan ambassador to China, said the park means a lot to his country, too, in terms of boosting cross-border trade. "The time for our goods to go to Rotterdam via Rizhao is only one-third of that used via sea routes," said Nuryshev.

The port's throughput hit 353 million metric tons last year, making it the world's 11th largest by volume and China's eighth largest. Development plans already approved by the Ministry of Transport and Shandong provincial government will see its number of berths expanded to 280, which will just about double that throughput to 600 million metric tons, said Du.

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