By Lu Yanan, People’s Daily
China aims to basically complete the construction of an economical, efficient, convenient, green, and safe land-sea trade corridor for its western regions by 2025, according to a plan issued by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The completion of the corridor will significantly enhance the transportation capacity of three major routes connecting regions in west China with ports in south China’s Beibu Gulf. The operation of the corridor, ports, and logistics hubs involved will become more efficient, and the land-sea trade passage will play a more evident role in driving the economic and industrial development of areas along the routes.
In recent years, the construction of the corridor has been advanced in a well-coordinated manner, while higher-quality development and increasing economic benefits achieved in its operation.
Last year, the number of scheduled trains running between western China and Beibu Gulf reached nine. Meanwhile, rail-sea intermodal trains passing via Beibu Gulf have made 4,607 trips, which skyrocketed 105 percent from a year earlier; and China-Vietnam freight trains passing via Pingxiang port, which helps link the corridor with other railways for easier trade with foreign countries, completed 1,264 trips, a year-on-year increase of 23.2 percent.
In 2020, Beibu Gulf Port and Yangpu Port, both destinations of the corridor, opened 52 and 33 routes respectively for domestic and foreign trade, linking the corridor with over 100 countries and regions.
During the same period, the total volume of goods transported via the rail-sea intermodal transportation mode along the corridor rose to 230,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Container throughput at Beibu Gulf Port and Yangpu Port reached 5.05 million TEUs and 1.02 million TEUs, respectively.
“High-level construction of the land-sea trade corridor requires foci on main drawbacks and constraints as well as intensify efforts to advance the implementation of relevant projects actively,” said Zhou Xiaoqi, an NDRC official, noting that a highlight of the plan lies in its specific measures for addressing short slabs in the construction of the corridor and its logistics hubs.
“As the construction of the corridor constantly deepened, and the transportation volume along the routes rises, the high-quality development of the corridor demands higher intensity and faster pace in our work,” Zhou pointed out.
According to the plan, the corridor’s west route will be basically completed by 2025, when its middle route will also be more capable and the east route further improved. Meanwhile, road bottlenecks will be addressed effectively, and the transportation capacity of the corridor’s arteries, with railways as the backbone and high-grade highways as supplements, will be increased substantially.
In addition, the volume of goods transported via the combined rail-sea transportation service along the corridor is expected to reach a total of 500,000 TEUs and the total number of cross-border freight train trips 2,000 by 2025, the plan said.
“Our company will move faster to build new lines and improve existing ones for the three routes of the corridor. This year, we’ve completed projects worth over 2.18 billion yuan ($340 million),” said Dong Hui, deputy director of the freight transportation department of China Railway, a participant in the construction of the corridor.
By 2025, China will have completed a bunch of projects for comprehensively optimizing facilities and services to develop Beibu Gulf Port into an international gateway port and Yangpu Port into an international container hub. Both ports will have more closely knit networks of domestic and international routes and over 10 newly-added international routes, the plan pointed out.
Container throughput at Beibu Gulf Port and Yangpu Port will reach 10 million and five million TEUs respectively by 2025, with their container throughput for foreign trade hitting two million and one million TEUs respectively.
“Rail-sea intermodal and international rail transport routes connecting the land-sea trade corridor with ports in the Beibu Gulf constitute the major logistics passage of the corridor. The smooth operation of the logistics passage is of great significance for supporting the development of the logistics network linking the western and southern regions in China and promoting a seamless connection between the building of the corridor and the Belt and Road,” said Wang Kan, an official with the General Administration of Customs of China.
The plan put forward higher requirements for rail-sea combined transportation, international freight trains, arrangements for shipping routes and schedules, specified the focuses of future work, and stressed synergizing the corridor with other transportation platforms and jointly building and sharing public information service platform and operation platform for the corridor to improve its overall efficiency.
By 2025, an economic structure featuring the land-sea trade corridor will begin to take shape, in which digital economy and financial services will play essential roles, said the plan, noting that cooperation systems along the corridor will be more mature, while the opening-up level will be evidently elevated and the construction of industrial parks see notable results.