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Kunming races along path toward opening-up

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-13 08:20

Yunnan's capital enhances influence and international competitiveness to become a regional hub

Yunnan's capital Kunming has accelerated the opening-up of its economy internationally and is committed to becoming a major international hub, with links radiating throughout Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Officials said the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Zone and Pan-Pearl River Delta Economic Circle overlap in the city - putting it at the crossroads of the region and making it an important window for China's opening up to Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Kunming races along path toward opening-up

Home to more than 60 percent of Yunnan's high-tech companies, and more than 90 percent of the province's institutes and universities, Kunming is the political, economic, financial and cultural center of Yunnan.

Its strategic position has become increasingly obvious with the upgrading of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

All that has transformed it from being an inland-focused region to the frontline of the national opening-up and development, creating historical opportunities for Kunming to pursue its status as a central city for the triangle made up of Southwest China, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Statistics from the Kunming government show it has trade ties with 115 countries and regions. Its trade with Asian partners last year hit $2.12 billion, up 3.22 times year-on-year, accounting for 71.42 percent of its total foreign trade volume.

To seize the growing opportunities, Kunming's authorities propose developing the city into an economic and trade center, a science and technology innovation center, a financial service center and people-to-people cultural exchange center for the region.

"Kunming should play to the strengths of its location, resources and environment in the process of building the 'four centers'," said Cheng Lianyuan, Party chief of Kunming.

"These will enhance Kunming's influence and international competitiveness and support it in becoming an international hub city for the region."

Accordingly, the city has made unswerving efforts to upgrade its industries, improve its business environment, enhance its innovation ecology, develop its financial sector and deepen its cultural exchanges and cooperation with other countries in the region.

Moreover, the city has meted out a clear four-step plan to transform Kunming from a regional city in Southwest China to a strategic hub for the bigger triangle region.

The plan has a clear timetable for its rollout. It envisages marked improvements by 2020 in the city's urban infrastructure and public services, an upgraded industry and enhanced reputation in the region through the opening-up process, people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in exhibitions, finance and tourism.

By 2025, the city aims to have further improved its industrial competence, economic structures and public services. And by 2030, Kunming has set itself the target of having stronger innovation and industrial competitiveness, close economic and deeper cultural ties with the rest of the region, and public services operating at international standards.

In addition, by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the city is anticipating yet more achievements. These include plans to develop an export-oriented economy, a strong presence as an international city, high quality economic and social development, strengths in attracting a high-quality workforce and investment capital, and a big influence over the whole region.

The blueprint said Kunming has accelerated the pace of its opening-up.

According to the capital's government, the city has now 21 sister cities, nine of which were established after 2011, and 10 are in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

The government predicts that Kunming will have more than 25 sister cities and 13 headquarters for international organizations and representative offices for foreign countries and regions by 2020.

By then, Kunming aims to also have 20 international technology cooperation centers, six international middle and primary schools, and five international medical establishments - recognized by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, an international non-profit organization aimed at certifying health care standards.

Kunming will host the fifth China-South Asia Expo, as well as the 21st China Kunming Import and Export Fair, simultaneously from Thursday to June 20.

Building on the success of the past four events, the first event has grown into an important platform for China to deepen its overall multilateral cooperation and exchanges in diplomacy, the economy, and trade and culture with South Asia, Southeast Asia and beyond.

It is through this platform that big-name multinational supermarket chains Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Metro and others were introduced to Kunming.

Kunming resident Yang Chaofeng still remembered the first time he went shopping at the US-headquartered retailer Wal-Mart in Kunming back to 1999, which, he said, represented a modern way of living.

But the city has preserved its glorious past. In the process of renovating its old buildings and streets, the city has paid special attention to protecting its cultural heritage and old way of living.

The time-honored Wenming, Yongdao and Guanghua streets have been renovated under the principle of "restoring the old as old", winning applause from local residents and tourists.

The China-South Asia Expo has also helped Kunming to introduce a number of first-class real estate developers from elsewhere in China, mainly from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Officials said they had contributed to the improvement of the city's residential and urban infrastructure.

Organizers said the expo has directly improved Kunming's living environment and the experience for tourists coming to the city.

 Kunming races along path toward opening-up

Visitors gather at the pavilion of a previous China-South Asia Expo, held in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province.Photos Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 06/13/2018 page10)

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