Performers dance at the Belarus pavilion during the 5th China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Sept 22, 2016. Starting from Sept 20, more than 2,000 Chinese and foreign companies, delegates from 57 countries and regions, and six global organizations are participating in the six-day fair held in the regional capital of Urumqi. [Xinhua]
In Urumqi, the geographic center of the Eurasian continent, delegates from 57 countries and regions are attending the 5th China-Eurasia Expo, which will conclude on Sunday.
Pakistan, Belarus and Italy are among the 23 countries and regions that have participated in the event in northwest China's Xinjiang since it was first held in 2011, while delegates from dozens of Caribbean and African countries are attending for the first time.
The expo's executive secretary Li Jingyuan said efforts have been made to upgrade the China-Eurasia Expo into a diplomatic platform for world leaders, especially from Belt and Road countries.
At the past four expos, nearly 30 heads of state and directors of international organizations, along with over 700 ministerial-level guests, came together to work out cooperation initiatives on issues of common interest at nearly 40 high-level forums and special events.
The expo has become an important tool for the Chinese government to implement its opening-up strategy and a major platform for communication and cooperation among Eurasian countries, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen said at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
Growing trade, growing potential
Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda of Tajikistan said the China-Eurasia Expo has played a larger and more influential role in promoting trade among Eurasian countries and building the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Trade volume between China and Belt and Road countries exceeded 446 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. China has invested over 51 billion U.S. dollars in the countries since the initiative was proposed.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, said the progress and achievements in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative over the past three years have exceeded everyone's expectations and demonstrated huge potential.
As a co-organizer of the expo, the China-Britain Business Council has recruited British enterprises to participate in the expo and hosted fairs for investment and trade since the expo was born. Its executive director Kirk Wilson said the council has always valued the expo as the most important platform for trade cooperation and said he hopes British entrepreneurs can build relationships and find more opportunities.
A total of 15 telecom operators from eight countries signed a cooperation deal at the Expo, pledging to enhance interconnectivity in telecommunications and jointly build an "information expressway."
Chen Lidong, an official with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the "information expressway" will advance the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Also at the expo, a technology company from Xinjiang signed a deal with UnionPay International and a commercial bank in Kazakhstan for cross-border payment service.
Nearly 100 representatives from the World Health Organization and Belt and Road countries have collectively produced proposals on international cooperation in entry-exit health quarantines and vowed to build a collaboration network to promote regional mobility.
Expanding circle of friends
Some Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Haiti, and several African countries such as Angola and Zimbabwe participated in the expo for the first time. Also joining the expo's "circle of friends" for the first time were trade departments of various international organizations.
Eustace Lake, Minister of Works and Housing for Antigua and Barbuda, said he values the opportunity to "build relationships and seek potential trade partners," and hopes to persuade participants that Antigua and Barbuda, located in the heart of the Caribbean, is a perfect choice for investors.
Peter Mathuki, a member of parliament for the East African Legislative Assembly, outlined the broad prospects for investment in Africa's energy sector. He said East Africa has vast renewable energy resources, but their potential is far from being fully tapped. He hopes to use the expo to bring back advanced clean energy technology to ensure a brighter future for the region.
As the key guest of honor at this year's expo, Belarus has sent 40 companies in fields such as machinery, energy and tourism.
Ruslan Drozd is the director of the Belarusian Potash Company's Beijing office. Though the current international potash fertilizer market is weak, he is quite confident he can maintain the existing sales.
"Our goal is to strengthen cooperation with Chinese companies, and the expo is a perfect platform for us to fulfill that," said Drozd, whose company sells 2 million tonnes of potash fertilizer to China every year.
Tun Winn, Myanmar's deputy minister of agriculture, livestock and irrigation, said China needs his country's mangos and bananas, while Myanmar needs to import apples and kiwi fruit from China. "Both countries will definitely benefit from a fruit trade relationship," he said.
About 100,000 merchants from more than 60 countries and regions have participated in the expo since 2011, with a total of 1.3 million visitors, organizers said. Endite