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Belt and Road initiatives offer new opportunity for revitalization of northeast of China

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-27-2015 16:07 BJT

By Hou Jun, PhD, International Relations, Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University, and Wang Yuqing, PhD, International Politics, Institute of International Relations, Beijing University

The Belt and Road Initiatives proposes the vigorous exploitation of land-sea transport cooperation advantages in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning in northeast China and Russia's far east region. It will promote construction of a Beijing-Moscow Euro-Asian rapid transit corridor and position the northeast as an important window for China's opening to the north. A Russia far east development proposal provides a perfect meeting-point for cooperation by both sides.

Under the backdrop of the increasing pressure brought by the  economic downturn in China's northeast region and its weak revitalization, China-Russian cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiatives supply a useful remedy. To a certain extent, it will free the northeast region from its marginal, backward situation at the start, setting a broader pattern for opening up. Meanwhile, it will contribute to the coordinated economic development of Russia's far east and China's northeast region.

Belt and Road Initiatives jumpstart revitalization of China's northeast

President Xi Jinping vividly  describes the economic development of China's northeast region as "a stone rolling up hill". During 2014 and the first half of 2015, the economic growth rate of the three northeast provinces ranked fifth from bottom. The causes, of course, are complex. The northeastern economic recession mainly attribute to its heavy industrial overcapacity, lack of market and poor transportation and logistics.  The Belt and Road Initiatives are expected to  help alleviate these difficulties.

Connectivity  between Russia and China lays the foundation for  regional infrastructure. The build-up of the Siberian railway will form the pattern of land-sea transport and improve cooperation on the construction of highways, railways and ports. In terms of cooperation between Russia and China, the northeastern area has a unique geographic advantage. Heilongjiang province shares the 3,000-kilometer- border  with Russia and there are 15 ports to Russia. The construction of the Dalian International Shipping Center of Northeast Asia, the Manchuria Development Zone and the Hunchun-Zarubino Cross-border Economic Cooperation Zone is speeding up.  The Hunchun-Zarubino project  is a joint venture of Russia and Jilin province with a total investment of  $3 billion and an annual handling capacity of 60 million tons. It is expected to become a free port.

On May 21, 2015, while meeting Russia's Primorsky Region chief executive, Jilin Province Governor Bayinchaolu proposed the construction of a railway between Hunchun and Vladivostok. Both parties signed minutes of talks. This line is expected to be the first China-Russian cross-border high-speed rail line.

According to an August 7 Russia satellite network report, the first  trans-Heilongjiang railway bridge (Tongjiang Railway Bridge) jointly built by China and Russia is expected to be completed in two years. The Russian side of the bridge will be built starting the end of this year, with an annual passage capacity of 5 million tons at the first phase.  That volume will increase to 20 million tons after the new transfer station and customs supervision department are built. This will  greatly shorten the transport distance for Chinese and Russian goods exports and radiate towards northeast Asia nations such as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea.

Russia determined a development strategy for its far east in 2010. President Vladimir Putin signed the decree in May 2012 setting up the Far east Development Department. He formally promoted the far east development as a national strategy.  Russia's huge infrastructure needs provide a great opportunity for China which has huge foreign exchange reserves and a wealth of experience in large infrastructure construction. China should take its geographic advantage  to encourage the  local enterprises in the northeast provinces to contribute to Russia infrastructure. Viewed from the outside world, Russia, hit by the Ukraine crisis, is subject to sanctions by US-led Western countries. China is its right choice from a limited number of available partners. The Belt and Road Initiatives provide a rare development opportunity for both Russia and China.

Opening up of China's northeast line facilitates formation of China-Russia far east trans-Asia-Europe economic belt

Of course, effective delivery of the China-Russia blueprint needs a lot of cooperation. In 2009, leaders of the two countries signed The Cooperation Program between China’s Northeast Region and Russia’s Far East and East SiberiaRegion. The program includes more than 200 specific projects, but few have been realized yet. Both sides need to establish a coordinated bilateral mechanism to promote existing cooperation and try to construct the China northeast line, an important part of "the belt and road initiatives", connecting  northeast China with Russia and other European countries:. Both sides must try to form a transcontinental China-Russia far-east trans-Asia-Europe economic zone to enable people along the line in both countries to enjoy the dividends of cooperation. Such a zone could restore the traditional role of international trade in northeast China and create new highlights of regional economic cooperation in northeast Asia.

In short, the revitalization of China's northeast region and the Belt and Road Initiatives are inseparable. The Belt and Road Initiatives, the opening up of the China northeast line and the formation of a China-Russia far-east trans-Asia-Europe economic belt are all effective ways to e deepen China-Russia relations and e enhance northeast China’s integration with world trade.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.




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