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How to Jointly Promote Open Inland Highland in SW China?

By JAMES ALEXANDERICHONGQING|Nov 02,2021

Chongqing– The detailed guideline to promote the coordinated development of the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle was released to the public on October 20, which reiterated that joint construction of the Belt and Road initiative should play a leading role in creating a highland for inland reform, as well as to set the benchmark for opening up in the western region. How to implement the guideline? Here are the detailed plans from Chongqing municipal government officials.

Multi-modal transport covers 100+ countries

The three branches of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) in western China all extend from the Chengdu-Chongqing region, and Chongqing acts as a national channel for logistics and the center of operations.

At present, ILSTC channels cover more than 300 ports in over 100 countries around the world, thanks to the extensive network of intermodal transport combining rail and sea, international railways, and cross-border highways.

In January 2021, Chongqing and Chengdu launched a joint service of the China Railway Express that covers most of Europe and operated more than 3800 train services in the first three quarters of 2021 to rank first in China.

In terms of water transportation, the Yangtze River Golden Waterway provides the main channel for sea access from Chengdu and Chongqing, while water buses connect with Luzhou, Yibin, and other ports in Sichuan Province.

Chengdu and Chongqing are also working together to build a world-class airport group. In 2020, total passenger numbers of Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei Airport ranked among the top 5 in China, while cargo and mail were among the top 10.

Smoothening port-channel logistics

Ba Chuanjiang, director of  Port and Logistics Office of Chongqing Municipal People’s Government, explained how both cities would focus on four main aspects to smoothen logistical channels in domestic and international ports as part of the next step.

The golden waterway of the Yangtze River is to play a central role in optimized waterway logistics facing eastwards towards the sea, as a 3D transportation corridor brings together railways and expressways to improve intermodal logistics systems orientated at river and sea shipments.

Chengdu and Chongqing will accelerate the development of intermodal transport with reliance on the backbone network of rail and expressways located in the east, central and western parts of the region while expanding the ILSTC network for exports through exports southern and sea-based logistical channels will be strengthened.

The global influence of China Railway Express to Europe based in Chengdu Chongqing will be expanded through central and east channels. It will actively connect with the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor and improve west-facing outbound logistical channels.

Chongqing and Chengdu will accelerate the combined operations of Tianfu and Shuangliu International Airport, promote the expansion of Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, and conduct planning for the construction of a new airport in Chongqing.

The aim is to jointly build a world-class airport group, strengthen the construction of bases for aviation cargo, develop new international freight routes, and create an international aviation logistics channel serving the world.

The outline also puts forward requirements for joint construction of an inland highland for reform and opening up in Sichuan and Chongqing, drawing on the aspects of domestic cooperation, a first-class business environment, market vitality, and exploring the appropriate separation of economic and administrative zones.

China-Europe Railway Express

The first departure of the joint Chengdu-Chongqing service on the China-Europe Railway Express departed from Tuanjiecun Central Station on January 1, 2021. (iChongqing file photo)

Next steps in open highland reform

Dong Jianguo, director of the Chongqing Development and Reform Commission, has stated that Chongqing will promote a highland of reform and opening up with Sichuan based on four key aspects.

The Belt and Road initiative can serve as the guide in further opening up at the institutional level. This involves adapting to new trends in international economic and trade rules, promoting innovation in high-level mechanisms for opening-up, and deepening reform to management systems and innovative development platforms.

Domestic cooperation will be continually promoted to strengthen linkage within the western region and deepen exchange with provinces and cities along the Yangtze River Economic Belt and coastal areas of Eastern China.

The focus will be placed on key areas such as the basic market systems, the efficient allocation of factor resources, market environment and quality, high-level market opening, and modern supervision mechanisms.

Cooperation will be deepened in social credit systems, commercial solutions, and the protection of intellectual property. Reform of state-owned enterprises will be deepened, while transformation and upgrades in private enterprises will be promoted to enhance the overall vitality of market players.

System integration, coordination, and efficient reform will be carried out to create a market environment that is orderly, high-quality, open, transparent, and fair, with efficient and convenient government services.

Finally, the appropriate separation of economic and administrative zones will also be explored to resolve institutional obstacles to high-quality development and create a high-standard model for national and regional cooperation.

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