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SCO Meeting to Raise Landlocked Chinese City's Profile
   2015-12-12 19:37:58    Xinhua      Web Editor: Yang Tiantian

Zhengzhou, the capital of landlocked Henan Province and one of China's most pivotal railroad junctions, hopes to raise its global profile through hosting the 14th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers' meeting next week.

The meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Zhengdong New District, an eastern suburb of Zhengzhou, will witness the signing of resolutions and deals against the backdrop of economic pressure and terrorism threats.

Founded in 2001, the SCO consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It has Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers.

Home to more than one million people and 30,000 enterprises, Zhengdong is ready to embrace this meeting. The Zhengzhou government has even approved a two-day holiday for government departments, institutions, kindergartens, middle and primary schools for the occasion.

This will be the first time the SCO prime ministers' meeting has been hosted by a second-tier Chinese city. Previously, it was held in countries' capitals or otherwise renowned cities.

Zhengzhou, the second most populous city in central China after Wuhan, was better known for its messy railway station and crowded streets than for its sense of style and modernity two decades ago.

However, as China witnesses industrial transfer from the advanced east to its landlocked interior, the city has sprouted dozens of hotels, restaurants and office development on the strength of a booming logistics and transport network.

Nowadays, it has initiated a new round of opening up driven by the Belt and Road Initiative.

A transcontinental freight-train route between Zhengzhou and the German city of Hamburg has been popular since it was launched in July 2013, cutting journey time in half compared to maritime transport.

A cumulative total of more than 105,200 tonnes of goods, with a value of around 1.2 billion U.S. dollars, have traveled along its tracks.

Meanwhile, the State Council formally identified Zhengzhou as a center for international trade by air two years ago, putting investment and policy support behind its development.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the cargo and mail throughput of Zhengzhou airport reached 370,000 tonnes last year, ranking eighth in the country. The airport currently has more than 25 international air freight routes, linking Zhengzhou with the rest of Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia.

Thanks to its booming transport network, Henan's import and export value exceeded 309 billion yuan (around 50 billion U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters of this year, up 21.2 percent year on year, despite the country's economic downturn. Zhengzhou contributed 60 percent of the province's growth in this field.

"The landlocked city has stood at the frontier of opening up," said Sun Yuning, chief of Zhengzhou Customs.

The city, as a logistics center and transport hub, has also attracted entrepreneurs under policies the government hopes will breed modern-day business legends there.

More than 3,000 people are working at 57 startups in a Zhengdong office block specially designated for the purpose. The companies contributed more than 500 million yuan in tax this year.

"The convenient logistics and open environment have provided us with more opportunities," said Nie Weixian, chairman of an e-commerce company in the building.

"Zhengzhou needs more chance to be known by the world as an international logistics center and innovative city. Conferences like the SCO prime ministers' meeting can give Zhengzhou and people here this chance," Nie added.

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