"Free port zone" and "border trade zone" should be set up at both ends of the China section of the new Eurasian continental bridge, and some areas along the section would be turned into a land economic belt of a free trade zone type.
A number of deputies to China's top legislature at the current session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), have set forth two separate motions in this regard. These legislators, who raised the proposals after nearly a year of down-to-earth and penetrating study and serious investigations, come mainly from the cities of Lianyungang, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xi'an, Baoqi, Lanzhou and Urumqi along the continental corridor.
One of the proposals calls for a free port zone to be set up around the city of Lianyungang in east China's Jiangsu Province, while some other motions call for opening a border trade zone around the Alataw Pass, in the farthest west of the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The new Eurasian continental bridge, the cheapest and fastest Asia-Europe land rail route, starting from the coastal city of Lianyungang to the east, and going a long, long way westward to its terminal at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to the west. The pass of Alataw in Xinjiang is situated at the western tip of the continental bridge section in China.
The 10,900 km continental bridge launched on December 1, 1992 has brought benefits to coastal regions in China. Lianyungang port, for example, now handles over 90 percent of the trans-border rail container cargo volume from China's coastal ports.
Meanwhile, legislators in their proposals urge setting up an international fund and a "development and construction bank" of the economic belt so as to speed up the formation of a regional banking center, and a new, special administrative agency mechanism is expected to emerge on the basis of the existing coordinating body to coordinate overall development efforts.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2004)