Last week we reported on the first leg of our trip, along with 19 other Asean journalists, to two provinces in central China as part of the ongoing effort of the State Council Information Office and the Asean-China Center to explain Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” project to a broader audience.
It was a bright and sunny day in Hunan province when our chartered bus navigated its way to the Jingxia Economic Development Zone, a modern logistics industrial park spanning an area of 85 square kilometers (sq km). After a brief tour, we were brought to Xianjiang-Gaoling International Trade City, which uses modern technology and the Internet to facilitate logistics, domestic trade, manufacturing and services. The Central China Import and Export Commodities Center offered us a glimpse of a comprehensive service platform set up by the provincial government to stimulate foreign trade. We capped the day with a visit to Yestech, the largest photoelectric industrial park in central China that produces full-color light emitting diodes displays for big events, such as the Olympics and the World Cup.
From Changsha, we traveled to Zhuzhou City, an important transportation junction in south China. We visited the CRRC Electric Locomotive Co., China’s largest research and manufacturing base for electric locomotives. In Xiangtan, hometown of Communist Party of China founding chairman Mao Zedong, we toured the headquarters of XEMC Windpower Co., one of the leading suppliers in China of direct-drive wind-power turbines. We also saw for ourselves the operations of Xunda Science and Technology Group, a high-tech enterprise integrating scientific research, production and sales of gas stoves, range hoods and water heaters. Toward late afternoon, we visited the sprawling complex of Tidfore Heavy Equipment Group, which specializes in state-of-the-art equipment and general contracting services for the engineering and construction industries and is now among the top 500 private enterprises in China.
Another high-speed train ride brought us from Xiangtan to Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province. A guide explained to us the history and activities at Xiaolan Economic-Technological Development Zone and the Xiaolan Exhibition Hall, where various industrial products were displayed. Later, we toured the manufacturing facility of Jiangling Motors Co. Group (JMC), which has a tie-up with Mitsubishi Motors of Japan. Then, we were escorted to the office of Jiangxi Just Numerical Control Technology, a firm involved in precision parts manufacturing, aviation and aero space, and flexible automated production lines.
The weather was pleasantly cool when we were in Jiujiang City. Officials of Xiankelai Biotechnology Co. briefed us on their research and production of edible mushrooms, particularly ganoderma lucidum, said to have disease prevention and curative effects. Later, we visited the production facility of Sinopec Jiujiang Co. that produces gasoline, diesel, kerosene, chemical naptha and liquedifed gas, among others, from crude oil. Then we were on the road again toward Jujiang CP (Charoen Porkpand Group) Feed Co., a producer of animal feeds using highly automated processes.
It was slightly chilly when we set foot the next day in Jingdezhen City, in the northeast of Jiangxi province. We visited the Jingdezhen Ceramic Co., a producer of high-grade porcelain for which the city is well-known the world over. While in the city, we were also brought to the Jindezhen Kiln Folk Cultural Exhibition and Taoxichuan Ceramic Creative Industrial Park to see samples of porcelain products.
From Jingdezhen, we traveled by another chartered bus to Wuyuan County. Rain greeted us as we began our visit to Huangling Ridge Scenic Area, a 15-sq-km tourist spot featuring a cable-car ride to 500-year-old ancient villages, terraced fields and folk culture. We left Wuyuan County via another high-speed train ride to go to Shanghai, where we spent the night before leaving for our respective flights home after 11 days on the road.
Looking back at the 2017 edition of the tour for Asean media for a close look at the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, I would say that it really opened our eyes to China’s high level of economic development at this point.
We witnessed firsthand the dizzying pace of activity in the Chinese economy under what has been termed as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. It was the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who said, in a radical departure from orthodoxy in the post-Mao era: “Poverty is not socialism. To be rich is glorious.”
What Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to be doing now with his One Belt, One Road project is to further strengthen the Chinese economy by linking it with the economies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa through enhanced trade and investments.
Our hectic 11-day trek through two provinces in central China may have been too short in duration and too limited in scope to really get us acquainted with what really makes the Chinese economy run the way it does now—at high speed, much like its homemade trains—but I think it was enough to recall what Deng also said many years ago: “A fundamental contradiction does not exist between socialism and a market economy.”
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