In October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to build the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in the Indonesian parliament, which is based on policy communication, transport connectivity, unimpeded trade, monetary circulation and understanding between peoples, thus to further deepen the China-ASEAN cooperation. Related policies on the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” were released after the proposal. It is reported that port construction will be one of the priorities in the planning of building the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. Bordering ASEAN countries, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will take on a crucial role of reviving the Maritime Silk Road.
Under this context, the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum will center on working together to build the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” and related discussions will be conducted. This will light up a beacon of exploration for building the Maritime Silk Road.
Driving on Guangxi’s highways, one can see streams of trucks with heavy load galloping along the way. More trucks are on the way as it gets closer to the sea. An old man who has been in Qinzhou for years said, the place he lives was once referred as “a remote and backward place” six years ago. Today, however, gigantic machines and tall buildings stand along the coastline. And the seashore, which used to be a quiet place in the past, spread the loud sirens. For this old man, so many great changes make him feel like a dream.
The old man has voiced most of people’s minds in the Beibu Gulf region. Before formal approval of Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone Development Plan, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, the three main import & export ports in Guangxi, were hard to grow stronger and larger due to their homogeneous competition. Changes have been started after the three ports were integrated and officially changed as “Guangxi Beibu Gulf”. Currently, it has 241 productive berths, among which are 64 berths for ten-thousand-ton ships above, and the maximum berthing capacity reaches 200,000 tons. The Beibu Gulf has opened routes to more than 220 ports in over 80 countries and regions. Some say, they achieved the dream they thought they never would.
The Beibu Gulf has not only prospered the local economy, but also continued to play its “old role” as the link of the Maritime Silk Road. China and ASEAN are inseparable partners. As regional integration has become the mainstream thought, both sides need to probe how to expand the bilateral trade. Undoubtedly, rebuilding the Maritime Silk Road will be the best approach.
The Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum has always served as a “think tank” for the development plan of Beibu Gulf since its inception. Each time, the forum focused on the development of the Beibu Gulf and discussed all the possibilities for China- ASEAN cooperation. Today, as the global economy is faced with reform, both China and ASEAN are very concerned that what kinds of new insights will be enlightened in the forum.
Li Yanqiang, executive vice-director of the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone’s Planning and Construction Committee, said in an interview that the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum will be held on May 15th, 2014. The topics in the forum will cover the vision of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, key areas and implementing methods, financial innovation, port construction and logistics network construction of Pan-Beibu Gulf, cross-industry investment model innovation, the cooperation and innovation of Pan-Beibu Gulf cultural transmission.
Mr. Li also mentioned, as one of the earliest departure sites of the Maritime Silk Road in history, Beibu Gulf should shoulder the responsibility of the construction of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It should actively participate in the construction as well, by enlarging and strengthening the port development, establishing a modern and comprehensive transport network, developing port-vicinity industries and improving platform construction etc.
“What matters us most is to do our job well, and we should open wider to ASEAN and the world at the same time.” From his words, we can conclude the exploration and research orientation of Beibu Gulf in the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum. For a long time, development has been a synonym for Beibu Gulf. The related themes, such as economic development, culture development and exchange development have attracted the eyes of people from both China and ASEAN countries. China and ASEAN have worked together and gone through the golden decade. Today, the top priority for Beibu Gulf is to “consolidate the existing basis and further develop after serving the Maritime Silk Road”.
“To better serve the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Beibu Gulf should further expand the present basis,” experts say. As they believe, it is imperative to actively explore in the aspects, such as taxation, finance, land, talent development and ecological compensation mechanism, and push forward the reform and innovation in government administration, investment and financing system and management mode of economic zone etc. The Beibu Gulf Economic Zone will finally be built as the logistics base, business base, processing and manufacturing base and information exchange center for China-ASEAN cooperation. Also, it will be an economic region with high openness, strong radiating capacity, booming economy, harmonious society and favorable eco- environment, a strategic highland which propels and supports the West Development and a new pole of China’s coastal development.
The loud whistles, incessant yo-heave-ho and hasty horns turn into a “flourishing symphony”. Along with this “symphony” day after day, the Beibu Gulf is keeping its pace to develop. It is believed that we will find satisfying answers to the questions on how to develop the Beibu Gulf and how to serve the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum.