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Historic port thrives

By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-28 07:22

Taicang to use shipping hub to boost ties and get behind the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, Liu Xiangrui reports.

At the Port of Liujiagang in what is today the city of Taicang, where the Yangtze River meets the sea, a mighty armada, with more than 27,000 people on 130 ships, prepared to set sail in 1405.

This maritime expedition was famous Chinese navigator Zheng He's first of his seven historic voyages conceived by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to establish peaceful ties with then unknown realms in far-off regions around the globe.

Zheng's expedition was 87 years earlier than the great voyage made by Christopher Columbus.

Today, Taicang Port in East China's Jiangsu province, where the former Liujiagang Port was located, remains busy with cargo ships heading for destinations at home and abroad following the ancient Maritime Silk Road established many centuries ago.

"The openness of the nation and the pioneering spirit represented by Zheng He are still inspiring people in Taicang," said Wang Genghong, chairman of the Federation of Literature of Liuhe Town in Taicang.

With beautiful scenery and rich history as well as cultural heritage, Taicang is known as a garden city. It has the inclusiveness and openness typical of a coastal city.

As China endeavors to speed up development of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, Taicang plans to enhance cooperation with major foreign cities and try to connect with domestic cities along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

The One Belt, One Road initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, includes the Silk Road Economic Belt, which stretches from China's coastal area to Central Asia and Europe, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which runs from the east and south of China to Southeast Asia and Africa.

Taicang also aims to strengthen connections with other cities, especially Lianyungang, in northern Jiangsu province, and take advantage of the Eurasia Land Bridge to enhance business links with countries and regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Lianyungang is at the eastern end of the Eurasian Land Bridge, with a railway and highway system extending all the way to Europe.

Cooperation on economy, trade, energy, finance, services and infrastructure is expected between Taicang and the northern Jiangsu region, according to local officials.

China's central government recognized Taicang Port as an important part of the Shanghai International Shipping Center and an important terminal for containers as well as a transfer port for river-ocean transhipment.

Jiangsu's government requested that the local government build Taicang Port into the province's biggest port for international trade.

So far, Taicang Port has 78 quay berths, including 34 berths that can accommodate ships of up to 10,000 metric tons.

It has a designed annual capacity to handle 1.3 million tons of bulk cargo and 4.35 million containers.

The port has 171 container shipping routes linking various regions in the country and the world.

According to Hu Hong from Taicang's port management committee, Taicang Port will speed up construction to make itself a hub for river-ocean transhipment to better modernize southern Jiangsu province.

It will enhance integration of the free trade zone and port to better serve local logistics and industries, and provide stronger support for Jiangsu's goal to upgrade its economy and realize modernization, as well as for the development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

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 Historic port thrives

Six centuries after Zheng He left Liujiagang Port in Taicang to start his seven historic voyages across the Pacific and Indian oceans, the city is still an important hub on the Yangtze for river-ocean transhipment. illustration by Song Chen / China Daily

 Historic port thrives

A statue of Zheng He stands at Taicang Port. The pioneering spirit of China's greatest navigator is still inspiring people in the city. Provided to China Daily


 Historic port thrives

Taicang is known as a garden city because of its beautiful scenery and good ecology. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 04/28/2015 page18)

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