Starting from Shaanxi and going global on Shaanxi’s vigorous development of the portal economy

2018-01-16 09:16:41 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

In the internet world, the word “portal” refers to a point of entry to the Internet, through which users can access huge volumes of information.

While the definition of “portal” in a Chinese Dictionary is “a strategic gateway that must be passed”.

Initiated by the Belt and Road Initiative, Shaanxi has proactively pushed forward with the construction of the core zone, adopted high standards in building the pilot free trade zone and gave play to its advantages in science, education and culture, with a view of becoming an economic and cultural portal opening up westwards, collecting and distributing resources eastwards, and radiating the Belt and Road.

“Bringing in” and “Going Global” Strategies

Shaanxi Initiates the Twin-engine

Promising Shaanxi enterprises and brands will “go global” and expand into international markets, and people from countries and regions along the Belt and Road will, attracted by the flourishing and time-honored Shaanxi culture, hold aspiration towards Shaanxi.

Example 1: At the Astana Expo 2017, over one hundred high-quality farm produce including kiwifruit, apple and pomegranate were shown, bringing about a “Shaanxi upsurge” in Almaty, Kazakhstan. At the International Food Exhibition held in Cairo, Egypt, the pavilion for promoting the well-known quality agricultural products of Shaanxi was crowded with people. Over fifty Shaanxi native enterprises exhibited sixty types of featured products, attracting many customers and enterprises to sign sales agreements. At the 2017 Silk Road International Exposition and the 21st Investment & Trade Forum for Cooperation between East and West China, more than thirty Shaanxi enterprises displayed over two hundred and thirty products in sixty categories at the “Silk Road Shaanxi Featured Products Pavilion”, competing with other products brought by countries and regions along the Belt and Road, which has drawn much attention. Building on the platform of international exhibitions, Shaanxi has constantly advanced its well-known quality products “going global”.

Example 2: In 2017, a large original acrobatic drama of Shaanxi titled Rainbow over the Silk Road performance has, in its business performance, successfully toured countries along the Silk Road. Created and performed by Shaanxi Provincial Acrobatic Art Troup, the show was well attended in six countries including Austria, Germany and Italy, and the event hit the headlines of over two hundred domestic and overseas media outlets. The drama, with the love story between a general in Tang dynasty and a Roman princess as its main thread, offers audience a real experience of local cultures and customs along the ancient Silk Road. Since its creation in 2013, the show has been presented on stages at home and abroad and has served as a name card for Shaanxi in its foreign cultural exchanges. Although cultures and customs vary in different countries along the Belt and Road, frequent exchanges featured with Shaanxi culture and characteristics can go beyond national borders and help people reach a consensus.

Example 3: Do children help their parents herd sheep during their winter and summer vacations? Such ridiculous questions are frequently asked by Jia Le’s relatives and friends when he first came from Iran to teach in Xi’an six or seven years ago. Jia Le (a Chinese name given by himself), a foreign teacher from the School of Oriental Studies of Xi’an International Studies University, came to China with his wife and two adorable daughters. However, in recent years, as the Belt and Road Initiative has made further headway, more foreigners have decided to work and live in Shaanxi, promoting Shaanxi to be more international. Jia Le is now a one hundred-percent “Shaanxi Hand” over the years. In his spare time, he likes to visit the Muslim Street, Great Town All Day Mall and other scenic spots with Shaanxi characteristics, or enjoy Shaanxi’s local cuisine such as pita bread soaked in lamb soup and dried persimmon. With his two daughters studying in Xi’an, Jia Le said that he hopes the next generation can learn more about the cultures from the two sides to promote cultural exchanges.

Opening-up, Aggregation, Radiation

Shaanxi’s Vigorous Development of Portal Economy

Shaanxi’s opening up takes one step further following the trend of the Belt and Road Initiative

According to the statistics of the Shaanxi Provincial Department of Commerce, from January to November 2017, the total export volume of the province reaches RMB246.16 billion, up 37.9% year-on-year; total import and export volume exceeds RMB200 billion for the first time, with foreign trade structure improving continuously. The number of the newly-established foreign invested enterprises has reached 164, representing an increase of 54.7% year-on-year, and the volume of contractual utilization of foreign capital is USD8.73 billion, up 133.9% year-on-year.

What is worth noticing is that in the first ten months of 2017, the total import & export volume of cultural products reaches RMB0.336 billion, up 43.57% year-on-year. The total import & export volume between Shaanxi and countries and regions along the Belt and Road amounts to RMB24.009 billion, up 25.39% year-on-year, among which, the export volume is RMB19.648 billion, increasing 32.04% year-on-year. By the end of last October, Shaanxi has invested USD1.03 billion in countries and regions along the Belt and Road.

A director from the Department of Foreign Trade of the Shaanxi Provincial Department of Commerce expressed that the import & export trade of Shaanxi in 2017 presents three features. Firstly, both the volume and price of import & export trade take upward trends. Such leading enterprises like Micron, Samsung, and Powertech account for 70% of the total volume, showing a significant driving force. Second, international markets are being explored in new ways. In 2017, Shaanxi organized enterprises in the province to participate in thirteen specialized international exhibitions with fruitful results. Shaanxi has also cultivated fourteen industrial bases in the fruit industry, fabrication and assembly and new materials, etc. to attract investment in a more targeted way and to promote business projects. Third, the quality of foreign trade has been improved and weak links strengthened. For example, to resolve financing difficulties for SMEs, four organizations including the Import and Export Bank of China Shaanxi Branch, Shaanxi Overseas Investment and Development Co., Ltd, the Shaanxi Foreign Economic & Trade Comprehensive Services Platform and the Shaanxi Provincial Department of Commerce have implemented “4+N” strategies, in which minimum interest rates and commission subsidies are offered for SMEs to meet their urgent needs for funds.

The China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone focuses on improving the government service efficiency in an all-round way and fostering a legal, international and convenient system conforming to the internationally high-standard investment and trade rules. The first measure for streamlining workflow, i.e. “integrating seven certifications and licenses into one consolidated business license and handling eight registrations and recordings at one stop” has been carried out comprehensively in all areas in the pilot free trade zone. In an effort to push forward the reform of administrative procedures, Shaanxi provincial government and Xi’an municipal government have delegated powers to the pilot free trade zone regarding 213 and 103 management matters on provincial and municipal levels respectively. In the part of pilot free trade zone that falls within the administration of Xi’an, one-stop service has covered nineteen matters and it takes only three working days or less for enterprises to get registration now, much faster than the previous 20 days. As at December 15th, 2017, the number of newly-established enterprises in the pilot free trade zone had reached 8599 (including 99 foreign-invested enterprises) with newly registered capital of RMB303.064 billion (including USD623.5261 million foreign registered capital).

By holding the Silk Road International Expo, Euro-Asia Economic Forum, Xi’an Silk Road International Tourism Expo and the Xi’an Silk Road International Film Festival, Shaanxi has been deepening its interconnectivity and communication with the countries and regions along the Belt and Road.

Universities and colleges in Shaanxi are also going out to the outside world by expanding their circle of friends proactively, aiming to globalize on higher education. Plaques written with “Co-founded by Xi’an Jiaotong University” in both local language and Chinese can be seen on the lab of the University of New South Wales, Allied Academy of Design of Polytechnic University of Milan, and the Central Asia Business College of Kyrgyzstan State Transport University. The Universities Alliance of the Silk Road has attracted 135 colleges and universities from thirty countries and regions to join in, forming a cooperation platform bridging the five continents in higher education.

In the 2017 Belt and Road Action Plan of Shaanxi Province released by the Shaanxi government, clearly stated that they plan to enhance cooperation in film and copyright areas, produce and translate a number of quality publications and films that can reflect features of modern Shaanxi, and create cultural products conforming to the Belt and Road Initiative. Films and TV series produced in Shaanxi have been constantly tapping into their own cultural connotations over the years, bringing people of different cultures closer by means of cultural exchanges in the inheritance and innovation. Statistics suggest that the number of film production companies in Shaanxi ranks sixth from all across China, following Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu. Currently, there are more than sixty film production companies in Shaanxi, among which over 90% are privately owned. A group of Shaanxi film makers are giving rein to their strengths.

Strive to catch up with and surpass other provinces

Build the Core Zone under the Belt and Road Initiative

In the future, Shaanxi will continue to promote the construction of the five centers under the Belt and Road Initiative, build the Pilot Free Trade Zone to higher standards, and launch policies to liberalize and facilitate trade and investment at a higher level, with a view to fully playing the role of gateway featuring opening-up to the west, collection and distribution to the east, and reaching out to the whole country.

As the starting point of the Ancient Silk Road and the important pivot of the New Eurasian Land Bridge, Shaanxi’s enterprises will more actively expand their businesses overseas and enhance synergy with other countries in terms of policies and planning to build a community of shared interests. Culture is a rich mine and we need to innovate our approach to building the platform and be the carrier for promoting excellent Shaanxi culture overseas and the Belt and Road Initiative cultural platform to face the world. Some experts have shared their opinions on the development of the economic gateway in Shaanxi.

Shi Ying, an expert at the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said, the Belt and Road Initiative will help Shaanxi change from an inland economy to an open economy, open wider to the outside and stand on the front line of opening-up to the west.

Du Yueping, a professor of the School of Economics and Management of Xidian University and a member of the Shaanxi Decision and Advisory Committee, expressed that Shaanxi can lead the economic development of Western China, especially the northwestern region. It can also act as the gateway for promoting the economic exchanges and development between East and West, North and South. Shaanxi should make the most of its own advantages, further shift the government role, further open more areas for investment and raise the level of opening up via the opening platform of China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone. Meanwhile, Shaanxi should enhance its innovation capacity in reform and opening-up, and create experiences that can be replicated and spread across China, which will enable Shaanxi to lead in the reform and opening up and achieve the goal of building the highland for inland reform and opening up.

Zhang Hong, the dean of the School of Economics and Management of Xi’an University of Posts and Communications and the chairman of Shaanxi Society of Economics, said, as an important gathering place of resources in science, education and military industry, Shaanxi has distinctive advantages not only in culture, tourism, scientific research and education, but also in high-end hard technologies represented by AI, aerospace, biological technology and Optoelectronic chips. Therefore, Shaanxi should act in line with the favorable situation, take the express train of Internet and digital economy, and fulfill the “Five New” strategic tasks, namely, fostering new drivers of growth, building new highland, energizing new vitality, creating new life and presenting new images.

Zhang Baotong, chairman of Shaanxi Society of Urban Economy and Culture Research, said, Shaanxi is building the Core Zone under the Belt and Road Initiative, with Xi’an being its center. In 2018, Shaanxi will take a more active approach to building the Core Zone and the grand Guanzhong metropolitan area surrounding Xi’an, shoulder the responsibility of such construction and further build Xi’an into an international metropolis facilitating the Eurasian exchanges and cooperation. Shaanxi will strive to catch up with and surpass other provinces.

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