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High hopes for Belt and Road Forum

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

04-14-2017 20:34 BJT

Full coverage: Belt and Road Forum for Int'l Cooperation

BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Quarantine officers rushed onto the scene and emergency response measures were initiated after a delegate, played by an actor, showed signs of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) upon arrival at Beijing airport.

The simulation was part of an emergency response exercise held by the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau ahead of the first Belt and Road Forum, which is scheduled to be held in the capital from May 14 to May 15.

More than 20 heads of state and government, over 50 leaders of international organizations, 100 ministerial-level officials, as well as 1,200 delegates from various countries and regions will participate in the forum.

The full details of the security and preparatory steps taken by Beijing are yet to be released, but local authorities and enterprises are already eager to see what opportunities will be created by the upcoming forum.

In Nan'an, a city in the coastal province of Fujian, trucks carrying raw stones and finished stone products are running in constant streams to and from a stone showroom owned and run by Yingliang Group.

"Our raw stones are imported from countries along the Belt and Road, and 30 percent of the finished products go back to where they came from. The Belt and Road Initiative has brought us new investment opportunities," said Liu Liang, chairman of the group.

More than 300 stone companies in Nan'an have cooperation agreements with countries along the Belt and Road, with combined annual production value surpassing 60 billion yuan (8.7 billion U.S. dollars).

Nan'an is just one of the cities in Fujian to make the most of opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative, a grand trade and infrastructure plan proposed by China in 2013. Building upon the ancient trade routes, the modern Belt and Road will be a transnational network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa and promoting common development among all the countries involved.

Fujian has issued a package of policies -- spanning infrastructure, trade and investment facilitation and industry cooperation -- to further cement its place as an international hub.

"I hope more supporting policies emerge from the forum, ones that benefit small- and medium-sized private enterprises like mine," Liu said.

His view was echoed by Zhang Jianhai, general manager's assistant at Fujian Qunfeng Machinery, who hopes the forum will result in more cooperation projects.

Qunfeng produces brick machines and equipment related to environmental protection. As most countries along the Belt and Road are developing countries, Zhang said, they are in urgent need of better infrastructure. The company's latest projects under the initiative are business deals with Vietnam and Indonesia, each worth more than 20 million yuan.

For small- and medium-sized companies, Zhang hopes government departments could offer specific analysis and advice on investment opportunities. "In this way, those interested can ensure their proposals answer the brief," he said.

Lyu Jianzhong, chairman of Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce (SRCIC), will attend the forum.

He said infrastructure building, trade and investment, financial support, and personnel exchange are key areas of cooperation under the framework of Belt and Road.

He hopes that the forum will offer a platform where nations can freely discuss policies that will facilitate international trade, cooperation and cultural exchanges.

The initiative has boosted trade and investment between China and countries along the routes and offered a solution to global economic difficulties since 2013.

China's combined imports and exports with countries along the Belt and Road topped 6.3 trillion yuan in 2016, up 0.6 percent from 2015, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

"The upcoming forum aims to reiterate China's commitments to opening up, and to building a community of shared development and destiny," said Huang Maoxing, head of School of Economics, Fujian Normal University.

"It is a response to the rising trend of protectionism -- the world economy needs to be universally-beneficial and inclusive," he said.

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