China plans to revive Silk Route via rail links

BEIJING - China is negotiating with Pakistan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to build three connective railroads to revive the ancient Silk Route and improve regional trade on the economic belt, a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Huang Shengqiang, head of the China Port Management Office, said Beijing has already opened 25 international airports and land ports as well as 12 special trade areas along the economic belt within the country. It will continue to build regional freight stations and create more trading platforms with Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Nepal. Huang was quoted by the state-run China Daily as saying, "China is planning to build a maze of silk roads, including the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), the pet project of President Xi, for which India has been invited to take part."

China wants India's participation in the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar) corridor, one of the Silk Road plans which connect India and China through Myanmar and a number of ports in the Asian region. The final plans for these silk roads and the objectives were expected to be released in the next few months. On Pakistan front, China has unveiled an ambitious Pak-China economic corridor project connecting the two countries. The multi-billion dollar project aims to connect the two countries with rail, road, oil and gas pipelines besides optic fibre links.

"China will make every effort to advance major cooperation projects that have been signed with countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt to bring tangible results to local residents," Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang said yesterday at China-Eurasia Expo at Urumqi. "The economic belt, which comprises more than 50 countries and could benefit more than 3.8 billion people, requires countries to work together to develop trade and lay out goals one step at a time," he said.

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Aaj Kal