Open Governance
Sichuan Province’s Increasingly Larger “Circle of Friends”

  From May 22nd to 23rd, the 4th China-US Governors Forum will be held in Chengdu. More than 300 Chinese and foreign guests will meet here for dialogues and common development.

  At the turn of spring and summer, waves of new and old friends have come from all directions.

  Thai Princess Sirindhorn came for her 9th visit to Sichuan;

  Foreign delegations in Hong Kong came for the first visit in China’s mainland after the 19th National Congress of the CPC;

  The Austrian President Van Der Bellen and Prime Minister Kurz came and witnessed the opening of the Austrian Consulate General in Chengdu and the departure of the first train of China-European Express to Vienna.

  Lin Zhengyue’e, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, came with a delegation. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the “5•12” Wenchuan earthquake, the Sichuan-Hong Kong cooperation conference mechanism was formally established and a new page of cooperation was opened.

  Such a dense rhythm is rare in Sichuan’s history of opening up.

  Opening with confidence, it is natural that many guests of exalted rank have been present. While welcoming visitors and seeing them off, friendship has continued to expand and cooperation has deepened; inland Sichuan has woven the bonds connecting the world when struggling to take the lead in the development and opening up of the west.

  New plan

  Creating a three-dimensional and comprehensive opening pattern

  On May 20th, a train of China-Euro Express Railway (Chengdu-Euro Express Railway) with full loads of goods departed from Chengdu and headed west along the ancient Silk Road. In 11 days, it will reach Lodz, Poland, and the cargo can be delivered within 3 days to most cities in Europe. Every day, there are 3 trains departing from Chengdu, and more than 10 “Chengdu-Euro+” domestic lines provide a steady stream of goods. Sichuan has become a transit hub for railroads to the international major thoroughfare.

  On the same day, in Luzhou of southern Sichuan, a foreign trade train carrying goods “made in Sichuan” departed from the port of Luzhou, passed down the Yangtze River and headed for Hong Kong via Guangzhou fort the global transshipping.

  A westbound, a southbound, different directions point to the same pattern—new foreign trade channels have opened up. Sichuan’s three-dimensional comprehensive open pattern is accelerating to form.

  The “Sichuan chapter” of Xi Jinping’s socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics in the new era points to the opening up pattern of a new era of governance and prosperity of Sichuan. Under the new circumstances, Sichuan’s comprehensive development and opening up require a new plan with global thinking and the overall perspective. Sichuan further proposes to identify the main direction and breakthrough area for comprehensive development and opening up, and promote the four-way expansion towards west, north, east and south for a whole area opening.

  Among these, interconnection is the basis and prerequisite. Located 50 kilometers away from Chengdu’s downtown area, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport is in its infancy. It will be formally put into use in 3 years as the 4th national-level international aviation hub following Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In the vast western region, this huge transportation hub will become China’s international air portal to Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Central Asia. It will become a transfer station of international passenger and cargo westbound, eastbound from and to China’s mainland, supporting the grand strategy of opening up of Sichuan, the west and even China.

  During the “May 1st” holiday, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport operated all day, transporting 9% more passengers than the same period of last year. On average, one flight took off and landed in 1.5 minutes. At the 4th busiest airport in Mainland China, there are more than 900 planes from various parts of the world taking off and landing every day. 106 international (regional) routes cover important hub cities in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, and Oceania, closely connecting the west with the world. In 2017, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport had a passenger throughput of more than 49.8 million passengers. The traffic volume at the Chengdu Aviation Port exceeded 5 million historically. Both indicators ranked 4th in the country and 1st in the Midwest.

  The ever-increasing passenger throughput and flow of entry and exit confirm the fact that Sichuan is more open to the outside world, and the once western inland province is becoming an opening frontier.

  Under the “Belt and Road” initiative, the world is heading east and China west. Sichuan, located at the junction of the “Belt and Road” and the Yangtze River Economic Belt, has been given a new mission of opening with a new historical role. In May 2017, the “China-Europe Center” was opened in Chengdu; the bridges and links between China and Europe settled in Sichuan witnessed the new course of Sichuan’s opening to the outside world – not only the open front in the west, but also the open front in China.

  New path

  Opening up to the outside world and promoting high-level and high-end development

  In recent years, Sichuan’s opening up and cooperation has been promoted in a high level and advanced to the forefront in the western region. The high level is reflected in the platform. On May 11, the first meeting of the Sichuan-Hong Kong high-level meeting and the Sichuan-Hong Kong Cooperation Conference were held in Chengdu. Sichuan Provincial People’s Government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region signed Arrangements for Cooperation Mechanism of Sichuan-Hong Kong Cooperation Conference and The First Memorandum of Heads Meeting of Sichuan and Hong Kong & Sichuan-Hong Kong Cooperation Conference, which mark the cooperation between Sichuan and Hong Kong has elevated from earthquake reconstruction and non-government exchanges to all-round and institutional cooperation among local governments. Lin Zhengyue’e said frankly that this was the first time that Hong Kong has established a new cooperation platform with a western province of the Mainland. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up and the 10th anniversary of the ‘5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake’. It is of special significance to enhance the cooperation between Sichuan and Hong Kong.” She said that both Sichuan and Hong Kong are focusing on key cooperation areas with innovative and pragmatic approach of “promoting mature project”, which will surely create a new cooperation pattern with complementary advantages and mutual benefits.

  Sichuan has accelerated its promotion to the world. In 2017, it went to the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, France, Austria, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan and other countries and regions. 22 batches of provincial leaders visited 48 countries and regions including Sweden, Austria and Israel. It has contributed to the signing of more than 50 exchange and cooperation agreements between relevant provinces and foreign countries. Significant projects such as China-Italy Cultural Innovation Park, Sichuan-Czech Aircraft Research and Development Center, and China-Israel Innovation Technology Transfer Platform have successfully settled in Sichuan. The opening platform is larger and with higher quality.

  Once borrowing boats to the sea, now playing the role of a master, Sichuan has become more and more confident. In April, overseas promotion conferences of the 17th Western China International Fair were held. The most anticipated western event this year was unveiled. The total exhibition area of this year’s Expo will be the largest ever, and it will be the first time that “One City with Two Exhibitions” is implemented. By then, more than 60,000 Chinese and foreign guests will come to Sichuan for a grand event. Also in April, 2018 Chinese and foreign well-known enterprises in Sichuan started their annual spring event. 58 overseas Fortune 500 companies and well-known multinational corporations and 28 central SOEs led nearly a thousand enterprises to stand on the stage with shared opportunity and future development of Sichuan.

  High end is reflected in the high specification. “By this, you can see the endless charm of Sichuan.” On April 9th, Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand said so after visiting Meishan and Leshan for inspection, touring the Leshan Giant Buddha by boat and scaling the E’mei Golden Summit. In addition to the Princess, there are also Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, Ethiopian Prime Minister Haier Mariam, and Chilean Speaker of the Congress of Parliament Espinosa... Important guests come one after another. In 2017, Sichuan received 189 foreign delegation groups and 1977 visits. The number of foreign heads and delegation reached a record high. Consulates, routes, enterprises, summits, signing agreements ... the high-density interaction coming with foreign politicians and intensive visits to Sichuan promotes its opening to a high level and high end.

  The opening Sichuan is more and more international. It has held or organized the Global Forum of Fortune, World Chinese Entrepreneurs Conference, G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting... High-end exhibitions, high-level conferences and high-standard visits are continuous. As of the end of last year, our province established 90 pairs of international friendship cities at all levels and 179 pairs of friendship and cooperation relations, ranking the forefront of the central and western regions. The Austrian consulate general in Chengdu opened on April 11. The number of consular agencies of foreign countries approved to establish in Sichuan has reached 17, the first in the Midwest.

  What a country values when it chooses to set up a consular agency in a certain area is its local history and culture, economic strength, openness, development potential, the basis for exchanges and cooperation between the two sides and the prospects for communication. Sichuan, located inland, is standing at a new starting point for interacting with the world and opening up to the depth of the world.

  Ongoing openness injects strong momentum into economic development.

  Last year, Luzhou achieved a GDP growth of 9.1%, ranking first in Sichuan. In the past year, 3,612 newly registered enterprises have been added to the South Sichuan port area of China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone since its inauguration. Exploring the new path of inland opening will inject an endless stream of power and vitality into Luzhou’s export-oriented economic development.

  Luzhou is the epitome of the whole province. Opening-up is becoming an important engine to promote the development of high quality economy in the whole province. In the past few years, there were ups and downs in our development road under the macroeconomic situation of continuously increasing economic downward pressure. After the total economic volume jumped to 3 trillion yuan, the economy is now faced with the test of realizing a smooth succession of new and old growth drivers and speeding up the transformation. We should firmly hold the general principle of the work to seek progress in steady steps and take initiative to adapt to the new normal of economic development. Sichuan adheres to the transformation and development of “reform at home and opening up to the outside”, regarding opening up and cooperation as a high ground and a high end tool to start with and continue to enhance the dynamic force of development.

  China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone shows a remarkable driving effect. After a year of inauguration, a total of 34,000 new enterprises and more than 300 foreign-invested enterprises have been set up. Chengdu and Luzhou, where the branch area of the Pilot Free Trade Zone is located, import and export growth increased by 49.7% in 2017 have achieved a GDP growth of 8.1%, which is higher than the national average and better than expected. Growth is accelerated for the first time since 2011. While maintaining the speed of development, we also need to achieve structural optimization. Last year, new projects, new enterprises, new industries, and other new growth drivers contributed more than 50% to industrial growth. Xiong Jianzhong, Chief economist, press spokesman of Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Statistics, said, “Faster structural adjustment and more growth drivers increased Sichuan’s economic vitality.”

  On April 9th, after a day’s visit of the foreign delegation in Hongkong, John Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hongkong, took several pages of notes. In the evening tea party, John showed the fruits of these days, “I wrote down the development advantages of the Tianfu New Area and Chengdu, such as important strategic position, advantageous transportation and people-oriented development philosophy, etc.” An official of Sichuan Province Foreign Affairs overseas Chinese Affairs (Hong Kong and Macao) Office showed him a set of data: by the end of June 2017, the world’s top 500 enterprises in Sichuan have reached 331. This amazed John, “I must walk around in Sichuan and share the opportunities with members of the chamber of Commerce and American friends.”

  On May 11th, a delegation of 26 young entrepreneurs from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong visited Sichuan for the first time. The delegation leader and chief executive of Hong Kong King Wai Properties Co., Ltd., Chen Hongli, , said that the results of the Sichuan trip have been fruitful: they will set up companies in Chengdu High-tech Industial Development Zone and establish and operate the Bauhinia Valley Chengdu Innovation and Development Center. They will also set up venture capital funds of no less than 50 million yuan. He said, “This time, I hope to promote exchanges with young entrepreneurs in Sichuan and Hong Kong and find new opportunities for cooperation.”

  Sichuan is working hard and striding forward to take the lead of development and opening up in the western regions.

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