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China's 'One Belt One Road' triggers policy change

Reporter: Han Peng 丨 CCTV.com

11-03-2016 12:16 BJT

Full coverage: Premier Li Visits Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia

Premier Li Keqiang is on an eight-day official visit to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia. China's One Belt One Road initiative, which is aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road, has triggered policy changes in Central and Eastern European countries, including the premier's second stop Kazakhstan. The country launched some major infrastructure construction projects after China raised the initiative, and laid out an ambitious goal of becoming a top 30 country by 2050.

"To end poverty, building a road". This Chinese saying is now being put into practice by China's neighbor Kazakhstan.

Alexander Knysh has been driving and working on construction sites for over two decades.

But he says over the past three years, most of the trucks he drives are made in China, and most of the roads he builds connect with China.

"The section of the road we are building is what our country calls the "new Silk Road". This whole project will start from China's Xinjiang and will span all the way to Western Europe. During its construction, we need good trucks that are able to withstand the heavy loads and the bumpy terrains. I have driven this truck for years, it's not bad," Truck driver Alexander Knysh said.

Just months after President Xi Jinping raised the initiative in late 2013, Kazakhstan launched a massive infrastructure construction program called Rorely Row, or Bright Road program. It is aimed at connecting up its sorely-needed nationwide highway network. Over 80 percent of the trucks now being used during construction in the country's capital have been imported from one Chinese company, Shaanxi Heavy Duty. The company says demand is still growing fast, often with Kazakhstanis ordering over a hundred per deal.

The production lines are located thousands of miles away in the Chinese city of Xi'an, also known as the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

Here, a truck is completed within just three or four hours. In its full capacity, the plant is able to produce around 300 trucks every day.

They look highly similar to the German brand "Man" -- a result of a decade long partnership between them and this Chinese company.

With a European face - and European quality - the company says the truck has an affordable Chinese price.

"Such a combination helps us expand our market in Central Asia very effectively. That's what developing countries need. Now a large part of our strategy is based on China's "One Belt One Road" initiative," Tong Chunli, vice general manager of Shannxi Heavy Duty Corporation, said.

Last year, Premier Li Keqiang and his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov signed some major deals worth 24 billion US dollars. Most of them are focusing on infrastructure and industrial capacity cooperation to boost connectivity.

The fast growing business ties are also influencing the younger generation.

This Chinese language school was one of the earliest ones to open in Kazakhstan, founded in 2001. But its principal says it was not until recent years that their enrolment started to explode, by doubling or tripling every year.

"We decided to set up this college because the relationship between China and Kazakhstan has begun to develop rapidly. And now, China's initiative of "One Belt One Road" Iniatitive will give our students much greater prospects. Most graduates either further their study in China or find a job in a Chinese multi-national in Kazakhstan," Talgat Mamyruly, principal of International Kazakh-Chinese College, said.

For these students, learning Chinese is quite a struggle. And for truck driver Alexander Knysh, his job is also a demanding one. But many in the country say the opportunity to ride the wave of China's fast development is something they cannot afford to lose.

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