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Logistics Firm's 30-Year Growth Witnesses Chongqing's Global Openness

By CHANG CHEN|Jun 28,2024

Chongqing - Chongqing has emerged as a pivotal inland hub nowadays, nurturing the growth of many logistics firms. Among them, Chongqing Meilian International Warehouse & Transport (Group) Co., Ltd., or Meilian Logistics, stands out as a remarkable success story.

Staff are loading automotive components at the Meilian Logistics warehouse in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area on December 6, 2022. (Photo/Zhang Jinhui, Visual Chongqing)

Surviving on motorcycle export boom

In the early 1990s, Meilian Logistics President He Daoguo joined Hong Kong Meilian Group’s Chongqing office. The fledgling international logistics scene in Chongqing led to the withdrawal of investment, prompting the office's closure. Unwilling to give up, He founded Meilian Logistics in 1994 with two small offices and six employees.

He Daoguo, the President of Meilian Logistics, discusses the company's journey of leveraging Chongqing's open trade channels to expand its operations to over a hundred countries on June 13, 2024. (Photo/Zhang Jinhui, Visual Chongqing)

At that time, Chongqing lacked significant export products and logistics channels. He Daoguo traveled extensively to find cargo sources and transport routes. The leading logistics options were 3-4 weekly Dragon Air flights to Hong Kong with limited cargo capacity and the lengthy Yangtze River waterway to Shanghai or Ningbo for international shipping. Despite these challenges, Meilian Logistics exported raw chemical materials, textiles, and small appliances to Africa and Southeast Asia while importing high-end mechanical and electrical equipment.

The turning point came in the late 1990s when Chongqing experienced a motorcycle export boom, with one local company achieving annual exports of $500 million. Meilian Logistics capitalized on this opportunity, not only surviving but thriving and upgrading its operations.

Driving Chongqing’s open economy

In 1999, Meilian Logistics established a branch in Chengdu, which was followed by expansions into Shanghai and Beijing. In 2001, with the approval of the Chongqing Export Processing Zone, Meilian Logistics was among the first to move in and set up a bonded warehouse in 2006, significantly reducing clients' costs and becoming a key player in Chongqing’s outward economic growth.

He Daoguo advocated strongly for the establishment of a bonded port area to support local enterprises’ foreign trade. His extensive operational data showcased the competitiveness of Chongqing-made products and the cost benefits of the export processing zone. This effort culminated in the 2008 establishment of the Chongqing Lianglu Cuntan Bonded Port Area, the only inland comprehensive bonded zone with dual water and airport functions.

Meilian Logistics also played a pivotal role in launching the China-Europe freight trains (Yuxinou). He Daoguo acted as an intermediary, leveraging customer relationships to secure cargo sources and encouraging local businesses to utilize this new route. The first train carried electronic components and digital products coordinated by Meilian Logistics.

Innovating and expanding in global market

As Chongqing's openness expanded, He Daoguo noted the shift from learning coastal experiences to becoming a model for others. Meilian Logistics grew into a trusted logistics leader, capable of handling everything from railcar equipment to individual cars.

In 2023, Meilian Logistics undertook a new task: the first land-sea intermodal transport of 50 Seres electric vehicles. Utilizing smart logistics solutions, they efficiently loaded the vehicles into containers, bypassing previous transfer processes. On March 22, these vehicles embarked on a journey from Chongqing to Europe via the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC).

Seres new energy vehicles, escorted by Meilian Logistics, depart from Guoyuan Port via the ILSTC on March 22, 2023. (Photo/Zhang Jinhui, Visual Chongqing)

"Seeing Chongqing-made vehicles reach global markets fills me with pride," said He Daoguo. Today, Meilian Logistics exports Chongqing-made cars to participating countries of the Belt and Road Initiative and imports high-end beef, fruits, and luxury goods. 

Reflecting on 30 years, He Daoguo witnessed both the company’s growth and Chongqing’s rapid development. Meilian Logistics now boasts over 500 employees, 11 subsidiaries, and a trade volume exceeding 5.5 billion RMB in 2023.

(Shen Xiaojia and Zhang Jinhui, Chinese reporters from Chongqing Daily, also contributed to this article.)


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