It was from the coastal province of Fujian that many ancient Chinese started maritime expeditions, and today people from Fujian are seeking a bigger role in global trade by following the footprints of their ancestors.
Zhang Zhinan, executive vice-governor of Fujian, said the province is now connecting with the global economy under the guidance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The initiative, which consists of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt, was proposed by China in 2013 to create a trade and infrastructure network from Asia to Europe and Africa.
Zhang said that Fujian has an inherent advantage in going global from its historical bond with overseas markets.
“In ancient times, many Fujian people traveled overseas to do business and then settled down. There are 15.8 million overseas Chinese of Fujian origin, of whom about 12 million are in Southeast Asia,” he said. “Meanwhile, many expats travel to Fujian to do business. In Quanzhou city alone, there are about 50,000 people of Arab descent.”
Zhang said that the ancient bond will make it easier for Fujian to connect with the countries and regions along the Belt and the Road Initiative.
Last year, Fujian province invested $2.23 billion in 96 projects in countries and regions along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
On March 2, a train from Xiamen carrying 38 containers of liquid crystal displays, worth 31 million yuan ($4.5 million), left for Lodz, Poland. It is the first Chinese train to Europe on the EU-China Smart and Secure Trade Lane, a pilot project between the EU and Asia that allows traders to quicken customs clearance with enhanced logistics, and consumers to track goods.
Xiamen is also among the 12 Chinese cities that have opened railway services to Europe and Central Asia. Since the China-EU railway route opened in Xiamen in August 2015, more than 6,000 containers of goods have been exported.
Zhang adds that Fujian has a dynamic economy and its industries complement those of many countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, so there is huge potential for economic cooperation.
Cai Jin’an, chairman of Panpan Food Group, said that the Belt and Road Initiative offers a great opportunity for Chinese companies to expand overseas markets.