Business / Companies

Chinese companies jump on 'Belt and Road' wave

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-25 13:15

URUMQI - It is not rare to see horses in Xinjiang, China's western-most region known for its animal husbandry. But to see the Akhal-Teke, a horse breed from Turkmenistan known for speed and endurance, used to be unthinkable.

Its price sometimes can equal to a Porsche. Legend has it that a Chinese emperor in the Han Dynasty even started a war to obtain one. Now thanks to China's increasing interaction with the central Asian nations, Xinjiang has more than 100 such horses, all bred at a equestrian center in Urumqi.

The owner of the horses, Chen Zhifeng, founder and chairman of Yema Group, made his fortune trading with Central Asian countries. In the early 1990s, Chen bartered for furs and metal scraps with sugar, flour and candles, commodities that were in demand in Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He then sold the furs to Chinese people.

As Chen expanded his business, he exported more Chinese goods to countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, including Chinese-made TV sets, Lenovo computers, clothes and machinery.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative last year, which aims to revive the ancient Silk Road trade route by building infrastructure, strengthening cultural exchange and increasing trade between China, Central Asia and Europe, businessmen and entrepreneurs like Chen have been the first to jump on such opportunities in Xinjiang.

Du Xuemei, a spokesperson for Yema Group, told Xinhua that the company is working on an e-commerce platform specially tailored to Central Asia.

With the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and Silk Road fund investing in infrastructure, the Belt and Road Initiative will shore up the Central Asian economy and create more market demand by creation of construction projects and new trade routes, said Du.

Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co, China's biggest wind-turbine manufacturer, is now in talks to sell its products to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to Yang Xuejun, the company's Xinjiang branch manager. Prior to their involvement in the Belt and Road, Goldwind mainly focused on exports to Australia and the United States.

Factory director Zheng Changming of Xinjiang Machinery Research Institute Co Ltd, a farm equipment maker, said he was paid 20 percent more last year thanks to a strong performance by the public company.

Zheng said he is confident about the company's future due to the Belt and Road Initiative and Made in China 2025, a plan designed to transform China from the world's factory into a world manufacturing power.

Heavy machinery exports to Central Asia doubled last year to 50 machines. Though the number is not very large, Zheng noted that the company will take advantage of the opportunities from the belt and road and design better, more quality equipment for Central Asian customers.

As for the horses, Chen of Yema Group plans to incorporate them with the revival of the economic belt. A co-production movie between China and the United States about the mysterious Loulan Kingdom, a vanished civilization along the Silk Road, will see the participation of Chen's Akhal-Teke horses.

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