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Ancient Silk Road shines with new vitality

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2023-09-14

LANZHOU -- Dunhuang, a major stop on the ancient Silk Road which witnessed the trade of silk and porcelain over 2,000 years ago, is seeing new vitality and booming trade of commodities among Belt and Road countries.

In late August, a batch of cargo, which included machine parts and fresh-cut flowers, was shipped from Lanzhou in northwest China's Gansu Province to Almaty in Kazakhstan, marking the opening of the province's first cargo flight route connecting Central Asia.

Chen Mingyuan, an executive at Gansu Port Logistics Co., Ltd., is excited to seize the emerging opportunities. Chen said a major commodity distribution center has been set up in Almaty to broaden the range of goods his company can handle.

Statistics show that from 2013 to 2022, China's trade in goods with Belt and Road countries increased from 1.04 trillion U.S. dollars to 2.07 trillion U.S. dollars, and two-way investment exceeded 270 billion U.S. dollars.

According to a World Bank research report, by 2030, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will increase trade among participating countries by 2.8 percent to 9.7 percent, global trade by 1.7 percent to 6.2 percent, and global income by 0.7 percent to 2.9 percent.

In May, Matmusaev Doniyor, from Uzbekistan, set up his trading company in Xi'an, located in northwest China's Shaanxi Province. The starting point of the ancient Silk Road on the eastern end, Xi'an is today an assembly center of the China-Europe freight train services.

"Chinese products such as new energy vehicles are very popular overseas and have become major export commodities for the company," Doniyor said, adding that the trade between Central Asian countries and China is expanding and many of his friends want to do business with China.

The BRI is a road to economic prosperity and green development. China has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Environment Programme on building a green Belt and Road, established the Belt and Road Energy Partnership with 32 countries, and trained 3,000 people from more than 120 countries under the Green Silk Road Envoys Program.

The Belt and Road also radiates cultural and tourism appeal, encompassing 80 percent of the world's cultural heritage sites across over 60 countries and regions with a population of 4.4 billion people.

Over the past three months, Xi'an Tianma international travel agency has added six new tour routes in Central Asia. "It is evident that the interest of Chinese tourists in Central Asia is continuing to rise," said Wang Anren, head of the travel agency.

Countries along the Belt and Road have implemented a series of measures to enhance the convenience for Chinese tourists. For example, Cambodia has recently adopted new measures to ensure quick entry for Chinese tourists, and all Malaysian airports have been staffed with personnel providing Chinese language services.

The integrated development of culture and tourism is an important area of cultural exchange and cooperation under the BRI framework.

By 2022, China had signed agreements or MoUs in the field of cultural tourism with 142 other countries along the Belt and Road, fostering alliances with theaters, museums, art festivals, libraries and art galleries.