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China Daily Website

China to revive 'Southern Silk Road'

Updated: 2013-06-09 06:07
( Xinhua)

Yunnan Province, which positions itself as the "bridgehead" on the opening up of southwest China, has seen its trade volume with South Asian countries grow 18 times over the past 15 years.

However, since a convenient inland passage is still unaccessible, most business activities between China and these countries have to choose the risky sea passage, detouring through the South China Sea, and then by way of the narrow and perilous Strait of Malacca, to reach the South Asian region. The mountain valley communities of Yunnan Province and its backward transport infrastructures have hampered development of the remote southwestern border province.

Yunnan has endeavored to revive the once-booming trade road and become a significant transport hub since 1999 when the province started to plan  a transport system with the capital city of Kunming as the center, linking East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia, said Wang Xiliang, director of the Yunnan Development and Reform Commission.

During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India in May, China and India called for establishing an economic corridor among China, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in order to link East and South Asia, two crucial global economic growth points that would provide fresh impetus to Asian economic integration and economic expansion.

Li Jiheng believed the move will boost pragmatic cooperation between China and South Asian countries.

The proposal was also welcomed and echoed by South Asian countries at the ongoing first China-South Asia Expo, which is held in Kunming City from June 6 to 10.

T. M. Murtozaa Reza Chowhury, additional secretary of the Ministry of Commerce of Bangladesh said at the China-South Asia Business Forum that China and South Asian countries are neighbors with glorious history, splendid culture and long-standing relationships established 2,500 years ago thanks to the ancient "Southern Silk Road."

Bangladesh always underscores the need for cooperation as an effective tool for social and economic development of the countries of the region, he said.

Rafeeque Ahmed, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, said at the forum that Indian companies have developed great interest in Chinese and South Asian markets while calling for a convenient transport passage.

South Asian countries have expanded cooperation with China in various sectors, which is conducive to eliminating economic disparities and enhancing regional stability, said Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka at the third China South Asia Friendship Organizations' Forum, which was held during the expo.