China-Eurasia Expo – Promoting Cross-Border Trade
With the Xinjiang Province of China covering almost one-sixth of the country’s landmass and sharing borders with Russia, Pakistan and Kazakhstan, it is set to serve a key position in China’s plans to engage in trade and infrastructure projects with Eurasia. This was revealed by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday during his speech at the opening of the first China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Province. He noted that the goal of Chinese authorities is to fully support Xinjiang’s role as it becomes both a window to, and a pillar for, China’s opening-up policies.
While many think of Shanghai and Beijing when considering business and trade in China, regions such as Xinjiang have much to offer as the Chinese economy goes through tremendous growth. Li further noted that the central government is working on compiling and setting in motion a series of policies covering tax, infrastructure investment, protection of the environment and maximizing resources, as well as implementing welfare projects, all with the goal of assisting Xinjiang to fulfill its increasingly important role in the economy. Restructuring of local industries, setting up special economic zones, the expansion of border ports and the implementation of trade policies encouraging the use of the Chinese yuan as the currency of choice for cross-border trade and investment, are also being investigated. Noting that China’s trade with Asian countries topped $270 billion last year, Li drew attention to the fact that regional economic integration is experiencing tremendous growth and that new opportunities for China and Eurasia countries continue to emerge.
The forum was attended by influential executives from thirty-three countries, as well as by state and government leaders from the region. The response of those attending the meeting was reported to be very positive. President Roza Otunbayeva of Kyrgyz was reported as saying: “Today we witnessed the revival of the Silk Road, which used to link the politics, economy and diplomacy of Europe and Asia for centuries.” Former prime minister of Hungary, Peter Medgyessy, expressed his approval of the fact that Beijing is putting its efforts into enhancing the less developed regions of China.
Organizers of the five-day China-Eurasia Expo have reported that about 50,000 people are expected to attend the fair, including officials, business people and representatives of organizations, from within China and beyond its borders. In addition to promoting trade, the expo serves as a platform for regional governments and business leaders to address difficult issues such as environmental protection and energy exploitation.