Shaanxi is not only the starting point of the eastern end of the ancient Silk Road, but also a major stop on the Belt and Road. With such unique advantages in terms of location, the province has been advancing opening up during the past 10 years.
"With high-end platforms as a ’booster,’ we have steadily expanded institutional opening up in areas such as rules, regulations, management and standards, and carried out a series of innovative practices in fields such as economy, trade and people-to-people exchanges with countries jointly building the Belt and Road," Xu Mingfei, vice governor of Shaanxi, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
According to the official, 17 projects involving Shaanxi stemming from the China-Central Asia Summit, which was held in May in Shaanxi’s capital city Xi’an, are presently progressing smoothly. Meanwhile, 36 measures resulting from practical experiences gained via the China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone have been replicated and promoted nationwide.
The influence of exhibitions and forums held in Shaanxi, such as the Silk Road International Exposition and the Euro-Asia Economic Forum, has been expanding over the past decade. The province boasts a total of five state-level economic development zones, seven national high-tech zones, and seven comprehensive bonded zones, which have provided strong impetus for Shaanxi’s further opening up to the outside world.
A China-Europe freight train loaded with 165 vehicles departed from the Xi’an international port station on Sept. 28, and headed for Russia’s capital Moscow. This train took the number of China-Europe freight trains handled by this port station to a total of 20,000 since the China-Europe freight train (Xi’an) service was launched in 2013.
"The service has regularly operated 17 international routes, linking with 45 countries and regions," said Xu, noting that Shaanxi is accelerating export-oriented industrial agglomeration, improving the layout of overseas warehouses and overseas import and export commodity storage, processing and distribution centers, and promoting the construction of national import trade innovation demonstration zones and processing trade industrial parks.
From 2013 to 2022, the import and export volume between Shaanxi and BRI countries had increased by 18.4 percent annually, and exceeded 100 billion yuan (about 13.93 billion U.S. dollars) for the first time last year. The world’s top 500 enterprises established 157 foreign-funded companies in the province during this period.
By the end of 2022, 306 firms registered in Shaanxi Province had made a total overseas investment of 6.88 billion U.S. dollars, of which 1.82 billion U.S. dollars was invested in countries and regions jointly building the Belt and Road, accounting for 26.5 percent of the total.
"In the near future, we will continue to guide leading enterprises to go global, form overseas industrial clusters, and deeply participate in international industrial chain and supply chain cooperation to enhance supply chain resilience," Xu said.
In addition, Shaanxi has continuously strengthened people-to-people exchanges with BRI participating countries during the past decade, holding activities such as the Silk Road International Arts Festival and the World Culture and Tourism Forum, and organizing various cultural exchange programs like the Shaanxi culture week and the intangible cultural heritage exhibition, which have been warmly welcomed overseas.
Xu said Shaanxi is striving to cultivate local and international compound talents. The proportion of international students from BRI countries in universities in the province has increased year by year, accounting for 71 percent of the total number of international students in Shaanxi in 2022.
"Shaanxi has become one of the top destinations for students from Central Asian countries," Xu said.
The province will further its involvement in the development of the Belt and Road, build a "highland" of reform and opening up in the inland area, and make new contributions to achieving high-level opening up, Xu added.