The progress of the strategy Great Development of the West was reaffirmed at a national coordination conference held by the State Council on July 5 and 6. Meanwhile, the Xi'an Railway Container Terminal has been established, signaling that a logistical center for Northwest China is taking shape.
Largest Inland Port Established in Xi'an
By ZHONG ZHI
One band in a rainbow of expectations: the opening ceremony of hte Xi'an Railway Container Terminal, July 1, 2010.
KNOWN as the "glorious capital" for seven Chinese dynasties, Xi'an has spent the last half century looking for its role in New China. Since the 1950s, it has seen four rounds of city planning – moving from a center for textiles to precision instrument manufacture to a bridgehead for the development of all western China, and finally to its position as the only international metropolis in the west. The last one undoubtedly flags high expectations from the central government as well as the people.
The first step in becoming an international city is participation in the world economy. As early as 2008, Shaanxi Province, of which Xi’an is the capital, invested the newly-established Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park with the construction of China’s largest inland port and international trade and logistics center. After two years of unremitting effort, this international inland port has taken shape in the city and a number of its constituents have opened their doors. On April 20, the Xi’an Bonded Logistics Center officially passed the inspection of the General Administration of Customs and three other ministries. Soon after on July 1, the Xi’an Railway Container Terminal, the biggest of its kind in China, went into operation. These terminals provide Xi’an with the capability to support much better import and export services.
Today more and more multinational companies are moving their production bases from coastal areas in the east to the comparatively less developed west, while the resources and products take a longer route to the international marketplace. Port services had to move westward to cut logistics costs and simplify exportation. There is no question Xi’an will be able to meet increasing demand – with the support of the Xi’an Bonded Logistics Center, Xi’an Railway Container Terminal and Xi’an Highway Terminal. The completion of international inland port facilities will see more efficient transport arrangements, and specifically expedited customs clearances.
“We no longer need to import cars via Tianjin Port like we did in the past,” says an automobile dealership representative. “The Xi’an inland port has almost the same functionality as Tianjin.” Xi’an is a well known exporter of heavy-duty trucks and mechatronic machines in China. Now these products can be declared directly at Xi’an customs offices, packaged at the railway container terminal, and transported westward to Central Asia, or eastward to Tianjin or Lianyungang seaports to become ocean shipments.
The data show that as much as RMB 300 will be saved on each standard container if enterprises in western China pass their shipments through customs at the Xi’an inland port.
“In short, what we have done is to connect cheap labor, a good industrial base and rich inland resources with the strong shipping productivity of coastal ports and the broad international market,” says Qiang Xiao’an, standing deputy director of the Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park Administrative Committee.
“We describe the future in this way – the establishment of Xi’an as an international inland port is the only way to develop modern tertiary industries here – by adjusting the economic structure and aggregating the modern trade and logistic industries,” explains Han Song, vice mayor of Xi’an and concurrent director of the Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park Administrative Committee. “During the process,” he adds, “the port will revitalize western China.”
A more complete and upgraded port facility also makes the city more functional and attractive to companies. More importantly, the port is vital to the promotion of an export-oriented and internationalized economy in Xi’an and western China as a whole.
Regardless of modern development goals, Xi’an has always had great strategic and historic importance. With this transforming platform of links to coastal ports and international markets, Xi’an assumes the status of an economic center for western China, and is ready to step up to the title “world city.”