More than three years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
Looking back at 2016, the Belt and Road Initiative has gained fruitful early achievements, promoting connectivity and opening up possibilities and potentials for development along the ancient trade route.
SILK ROAD ECONOMIC BELT STRINGS ROADS TOGETHER
One day in golden October in Kashgar of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a fleet of 50 trucks of a joint trade convoy carrying large containers started to roll along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
After passing the Pamirs, crossing the Har goolun Range, and threading Pakistan's western region, the fleet finally arrived at its destination -- the Gwadar Port of Pakistan, concluding its 3,115-km journey in a month.
The containers carried by the fleet were shipped to the United Arab Emirates and other countries, marking the Gwadar port's first export of containers to overseas destinations, and showing that the port has restored the designed handling capacity.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that CPEC is destined to transform the entire country and open up a world of possibilities for not just Pakistan but also Central Asian states.
In February 2016, China Railway Tunnel Group completed building the Qamchiq Tunnel in Uzbekistan, the longest tunnel in Central Asia. It is part of the 169-km Angren-Pap railway line, a major state project. After completion of the rail line, Uzbekistan's domestic transport will no longer have to go through foreign territories.
"If we say 2013 is the year of proposal, 2014 is the year of guideline, 2015 is the year of top-level design, then 2016 is the year of implementing landmark projects of the Belt and Road Initiative," said Zhao Lei, a professor at China's Central Party School. "Many European countries have high approval rates on the Belt and Road Initiative."
Perhaps the busy-running China-Europe trains give the best illustration to people's acceptance. Since the Belt and Road proposal, trains running between Europe and China have been burgeoning. By June 2016, trains had been running nearly 2,000 times between China and Europe, with a total of import and export value of 17 billion U.S. dollars.
Many other projects are also under way. The China-Belarus industrial park is in development, the Hungary-Serbia railroad is to be constructed by the Chinese side soon, cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries has been further expanded.
The Silk Road Economic Belt, with a nature of inclusiveness and openness, has become a vital link connecting regional development and China's transformation.
21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD CONNECTS ROADS AND PORTS
In October 2016, the contract for the second phase of the China-Laos railway project was signed in Lao capital of Vientiane.
Kicked off in late 2015, the construction of the project is expected to be completed in five years. Upon completion of the railway, a trip from Vientiane to the Chinese border will take only four hours, turning Laos from a landlocked country into a land-linked nation.
On Jan. 21, 2016, at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, Indonesian President Joko Widodo launched the country's first ever high-speed railway project in Walini, West Java Province.
With a maximum design speed of 350 km per hour, the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung will be cut from over three hours to less than one hour once the project is finished.
The Belt and Road Initiative provides opportunities not only for a new round of China's opening-up, but also for the growth of world economy.