A freight train heading to Central Asia departed Chengdu on July 8 and arrived in Lodz, Poland on July 20.
A freight train heading to Central Asia, via the Alataw Pass in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region departed Chengdu on July 8. On July 20, the train arrived in Lodz, Poland. Over the next three days, the commodities it had carried, mainly electronic and automobile parts made in West China and East China, were distributed to European countries such as the Netherlands, Slovakia and Germany.
On July 22, the train began its return journey; taking 14 days to travel from Duisburg in Germany, through Central Asia, to Chengdu. The freight it brought back included goods from Italy, France and Spain, including floorboards, furniture and giant panda sculptures.
Chengdu was the original starting terminus for the freight train, but in July, Xiamen became the new starting point. The railway between Chengdu and Xiamen means Chengdu now has a rail link to the sea.
In the future, export commodities from Ningbo in Zhejiang province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Kunming in Yunnan province will also be able to access the European market through this Eurasian Land Bridge railway.
As more and more Chinese cities link to the railway, Chengdu is becoming a key transport hub for Asia and Europe. Through its links to Ningbo, Kunming and Shenzhen, Chengdu will have easier access to Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, as well as the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
At the West China Expo held in Chengdu last year, Chengdu signed transport cooperation framework conventions with Kunming, Guiyang, Wuhan and Luzhou, in a bid to expand the Chengdu-Europe railway into western and central China.
Dai Bing, professor of economics with Chengdu-based Southwest Jiaotong University, said: "Chengdu's cooperation with these cities will contribute more freight to the train, in terms of both quantity and category. Chengdu has become a 'land port' for global trade. The larger the area the port can influence, the greater its value. That's what the Chengdu-Europe railway operator is doing now."
Once the Chengdu-Europe railway is expanded to other cities in South China and Southwest China, Chengdu's position as an important hub city connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt, 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and other strategic development roads, will be strengthened. Thus, thanks to its development potential, historical legacy and unique geographic location Chengdu will become a pioneering city connecting China's foreign and domestic development strategies.
That Chengdu is the only city in the central and western parts of China to have two airports guarantees its potential to become an air transport hub in the region. And recognized by UNESCO for its spicy food and the World Tourism Organization for its places of historical interest and picturesque views, Chengdu's rich tourism and cultural resources lay a solid foundation for it to become a window city for international exchanges.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pointed out in his Government Work Report in March that the Belt and Road Initiative should be incorporated into China's regional development projects. Chengdu is a key point in the city clusters in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and a center of the Chengdu-Chongqing city cluster. Chengdu is seen as having the potential to sew regional development plans onto the Belt and Road Initiative.