China’s B&R initiative to stimulate global growth with Europe rail connections

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/11 23:43:40

The first ever freight train from the UK to China has set off, loaded with British goods including soft drinks, whisky and pharmaceuticals.

It was said that "the sun never set on the British Empire." At the peak of its power, the British Empire helped establish rail networks in various regions including Africa and India. Once a strong promoter of interconnected trade routes, the UK seems to now be included as a beneficiary of China's One Belt, One Road (B&R) initiative.

In January, China launched its first freight train to London, making it the 15th city in Europe to have a direct rail link with China. The departure of the train from the UK is the first journey in the other direction, during which the train will pass through countries including France, Belgium, Germany and Poland before arriving in China later this month. The UK and every market in between will be connected with China via cargo train service, which is faster than sea freight and much cheaper than air freight. According to a recent report from the Xinhua News Agency, nearly 2,000 China-Europe freight trains have been launched as of June 2016, and the number is likely to reach 5,000 by 2020.

The China-Europe freight rail service is only one part of the B&R initiative, which intends to promote an open and inclusive global economy. The US used to lead the world in fighting against trade protectionism but now Washington has become a stronghold of protectionists. In contrast, China is backing globalization by taking practical measures to connect the world through trade and rail networks.

The expansion of destinations for China's intercontinental rail service demonstrates Beijing's determination in promoting economic globalization and safeguarding trade liberalization. The B&R initiative is likely to stimulate export growth of countries along the routes and to create jobs, helping China meet its obligation of stimulating global economic growth as a major world power.

A B&R initiative summit, to be held in Beijing in May, will provide a platform for China and other countries to enhance cooperation. It can be expected that freight trains connecting China and European countries  and other projects promoting global connectivity will get more attention in the coming months.

However, China's power in promoting economic globalization is limited. Hopefully more developed countries, the US included, will attend the summit and take part in the B&R initiative.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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