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Guangzhou looks to become global exchange center

By Chen Hong | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-14 07:47

China's southern gateway branches further out with expanded airport

Processing an increasingly competitive airport with more international routes, Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong province, will leverage its ambition to become a global exchange center.

As China's southern gateway, Guangzhou released a three-year action plan in May on its new role as an international exchange center, a heavyweight in the global community, to demonstrate the achievements of China's reform and opening up to the world.

A well-functioning airport, along with many other characteristics, including wide diplomatic connections, frequent international activities, advanced infrastructure and an impressive city image, are aspects such a center should feature.

In late April, the city's only airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, put its second terminal into operation, which is the largest single terminal building on the Chinese mainland with a floor space of 658,700 square meters.

In the first half of this year, the passenger throughput of the airport rose 7.2 percent year-on-year to reach 34.2 million passengers. In two years, it is expected to exceed that of Hong Kong International Airport, which ranked eighth in the world by passenger traffic in 2017, if the growth is maintained, said Deng Jianqing, deputy director of the Guangzhou Airport Economic Zone Administrative Committee.

"The passenger throughput of this year is projected to reach 70 million, which will surge five to six million a year to make sure the goal of 80 million could be fulfilled by the end of 2020," Deng said.

The international routes of the airport will also be expanded as it is aiming to become an international aviation hub.

"In 2018, we will seize the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative. Coupling with the construction of airports in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the strategic positioning of Guangzhou, we have proposed a route expansion plan to open more international direct flights," said Zhang Kejian, chairman of the board of directors of Guangdong Airport Authority.

According to the airport, it plans to open 30 new international routes in the next three years, which will connect the Chinese southern city with Madrid in Spain, Chicago and Boston in the United States, Casablanca in Morocco and some capitals of Asian countries that have not yet be covered.

Statistics from the airport indicate that nearly 80 Chinese and foreign airlines are operating there, which have served about 220 destinations around the world with more than 300 routes, including 162 international ones.

According to the city's blueprint, the construction of an international aviation center will be basically achieved by the end of 2020 when the passenger traffic steps into the world's top 10 and the cargo and mail throughput enters the top 12.

It will be further increased to more than 100 million by passenger traffic and 3.5 million tons by cargo and mail throughput by 2025, when the mission is substantially accomplished and a comprehensive transportation network, which is composed of aviation, high-speed railways, city rail, subways and roads, is fully operational, according to the city's blueprint.

"The aviation hub is really important to the development of the city as it can attract a pool of quality talent around the world to Guangzhou," said Wang Meng, executive chairman of the Guangdong Investment Promotion Association.

For example, direct flights are operating between Guangzhou and Taiwan, which can effectively attract integrated circuit professionals from the island to fuel the IC industry in Guangzhou that the local government has attached much importance to, she said. The city will have more chances to be picked up as a destination for a transnational corporation's headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, Wang added.

"Many executives are moving their homes to near the airport to facilitate their frequent business trips. The convenience of the airport has been an essential element of the top-tier talent to consider whether to work or not," Wang told China Daily.

According to the city's three-year action plan on building an international exchange center by 2020, it proposes to construct the second airport in the city and intensify international flight routes, so that it can take as little as 12 hours to reach most of the important cities in the world.

It also plans to turn the city into a high-end destination for international conferences and build it into a "capital of exhibition" with global impact.

Guangzhou is also encouraging overseas talent to start up their businesses and attracting leading international schools to set up their branches in the city.

 Guangzhou looks to become global exchange center
Guangzhou in Guangdong province is taking measures to become a global exchange center. He Yongdang / For China Daily

 Guangzhou looks to become global exchange center

Delegates from Guangzhou swap opinions at a promotional event in London for the 2018 World Route Development Forum in Guangzhou from Sept 16 to 18. Photos provided to China Daily

 Guangzhou looks to become global exchange center

The aviation industry in Guangzhou has facilitated local economic growth and opening up in recent years. Lei Xiaoqiao / For China Daily

(China Daily 09/14/2018 page19)

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