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From the cradle of Chinese culture to modern innovator

By Cang Wei and Wang Xin in Xuzhou, Jiangsu | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-07 08:15

On her way from Xuzhou high-speed railway station to the hotel, Kee Wei Sin was shocked by what she saw.

"There were so many trees of so many different colors outside the bus," said the Malaysian national, who was on her first visit. "The 30-minute route impressed me a lot. Such picturesque views can only be gained if the local government pays great attention to urban greening."

With a history of 2,600 years, the city is widely known in China for being the cradle of Han culture and the hometown of the first emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24). Its pollution caused by the development of heavy industry has also been known several years ago.

Cao Xinping, Party chief of Xuzhou, said that apart from industrial upgrading and business transformation, which saw the city's total output surpass 496 billion yuan ($77.6 billion) last year, the city has invested greatly to improve the environment for residents.

After years of planting trees, building parks and fighting pollution, the city's forest coverage reached 32 percent, which "tops the 13 cities of Jiangsu province", Cao said. With 229 parks, the forest coverage in Xuzhou's urban area reached 43 percent.

Now, as the city is looking for new chances for development with the Belt and Road Initiative. Zhu Min, mayor of Xuzhou, said the city has a great advantage in its location and will become a transportation hub in the initiative.

"It takes three hours to get from the city to either Beijing or Shanghai by high-speed train, and just one hour to the capital cities of Jiangsu province and three neighboring provinces," he said.

According to Zhu, the total import and export value between the city and 65 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative exceeded $1.83 billion last year, accounting for more than 30 percent of the city's total.

By the end of last year, 29 of the countries along the Belt and Road Initiative had invested in 230 projects in Xuzhou, while local enterprises had invested in 24 projects in 13 countries, with the investment surpassing $406 million.

"We will further simplify the procedures for companies investing in the countries along the Belt and Road Initiative," Zhu said. "We will provide better service and help them in financing and customs clearance for import and export."

After investing heavily in industrial transformation, Xuzhou now is home to seven industries whose output value exceeds 100 billion yuan in total, including logistics, equipment manufacturing and construction.

"Xuzhou wants to take the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative and deepen its cooperation with other countries," Cao said. "We'll build more high-speed railways and highways, put forward more policies to encourage enterprises to invest overseas, and build more international schools and hospitals for investors."

The city will try to establish sister-city relationships with at least 10 foreign cities by 2020, he said.

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(China Daily 12/07/2015 page5)

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