Beijing active in Belt and Road construction

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The first briefing of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held Wednesday. Tan Xuxiang, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, Zhang Guanglian, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, Liu Meiying, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau, and Guan Yu, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau, together introduced Beijing's active participation in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Undertaking projects along Belt and Road

In the past five years, the average annual labor productivity of Beijing has increased by about 10,000 yuan (US$1,488) per person, reaching 240,000 yuan (US$35,704) in 2018, ranking first in China. In 2018, the capital's total GDP exceeded 3 trillion yuan, marking an average annual growth of 6.88% over the past five years. Meanwhile, its GDP per capita reached US$21,300 in 2018, also the most in China.

In terms of international economic and trade cooperation, from 2013 to 2018, the total volume of Beijing's foreign trade added up to about US$3 trillion, with an average annual growth rate of 1.5%. The inbound foreign direct investment totaled about US$85 billion, with an average annual growth of 14.5%. In 2018, the city's investments in foreign countries reached US$7 billion, setting an increase of nearly 70% compared to 2013. The investments in science & technology, information, commerce, and culture accounted for over 50%. 

Furthermore, state-owned enterprises in Beijing have sped up the pace of "going global", and actively participated in the construction of a large number of key projects, such as the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya, the satellite TV project in Africa, and the Manchester Airport City in the U.K. Other projects including the construction of Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation (BAIC) South African plant, and Cambodia's Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone undertaken by Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited, are also running smoothly.

In addition, from 2013 to 2018, the Beijing-Hong Kong Economic Cooperation Symposium led to the signing of 118 major projects with the total value of about US$42.5 billion. A memorandum of understanding on cooperation was signed at the fourth meeting of the Beijing-Hong Kong Cooperation Conference in 2018, and the two sides will carry out comprehensive docking and cooperation in fields of construction, trade, service industry, scientific & technological innovation and cultural creativity. 

"Since 2013, Beijing has held the China (Beijing) Transnational Technology Transfer Convention for six times, and has promoted transnational technology docking of more than 7,000 items, with the contract value of more than 100 billion yuan," Tan said.

Establishing sister-city relationships and introducing visa-free policies

Beijing puts a strong emphasis on strengthening cooperation with foreign cities, international organizations, and the Hong Kong SAR. As the cooperation network of the BRI gets wider and closer, Beijing has established sister-city relationships with 56 cities in 51 countries around the world.

Regarding people-to-people exchange and cooperation, Beijing initiated the World Tourism Cities Federation, which now has 213 members and held its Xiangshan Tourism Summit seven times in China and elsewhere. 

Beijing also launched a "Cirrus Project" to boost international youth innovation and entrepreneurship, benefiting more than 1,200 international participants. 

Moreover, the city has promoted the joint construction of the "Health Silk Road," and has signed more than 10 medical and health cooperation agreements with Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, and other countries.

According to Guan, Beijing has held "Happy Chinese New Year" celebration events in more than 30 countries and regions for 16 consecutive years. Particularly in the Nordic region, cultural activities featuring the Spring Festival have been held in Helsinki, capital of Finland, and Tallinn, capital of Estonia, for 13 years and 10 years respectively in a row.

In addition, nine world-renowned tourism organizations from Russia, Australia, Israel, and other countries along the Belt and Road have become Beijing's global strategic partners in tourism cooperation. The capital has also introduced a visa-free policy which allows travelers to stay in Beijing for up to 144 hours without a visa. Those policies have made the city more attractive among people along the Belt and Road.

Building the city into a world-class international hub

According to Tan, Beijing will put forth more efforts to construct a platform for foreign exchange. The city will implement the new edition of its urban master plan and construct nine types of new spaces, which include areas for major diplomatic and foreign affairs activities, international conferences and exhibitions, international sports and cultural exchanges, international commercial and financial functions, etc.

The Daxing International Airport is on schedule to be put into operation at the end of this September. Along with the Beijing Capital International Airport, the two will form a "double hub center" for international aviation serving the Asia-Pacific region and the world. 

In science & technology development, Beijing will continue to build an array of science parks overseas, optimize its layout of liaison offices, and promote the construction of innovation and entrepreneurship centers and cross-border innovation incubators. The capital will speed up the construction of its Huairou Science Town, and promote the opening and sharing of the town's major scientific and technological infrastructure, hoping that it will become an important supporting platform for joint research and development by global scientists.

To encourage people-to-people exchange, efforts have been made in building cultural brands such as the National Grand Theater, Beijing People's Art Center, Capital Museum, and so on. 

Beijing will also continue to implement its Belt and Road talent training program, strengthen the construction of the Belt and Road national talent training bases, and attract more high-level foreign students to study in Beijing. 

In the field of health care, Beijing will promote the construction of the European TCM Development and Promotion Center, and build an international brand of "Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine."

Moreover, Beijing will make full play of the Belt and Road Alliance of Municipal Chambers of Commerce, and promote the construction of its economic and trade cooperation network, overseas service centers and non-public economic development service bases. As an international arbitration center and the Belt and Road International Commercial Mediation Center, Beijing plans to further improve its capacity for settlement of international commercial disputes, and provide enterprises with better services covering investment policy, legal advice, risk assessment, security prevention, and information sharing.

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