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Digital-rich Chongqing spurs SCO ties for common prosperity

By DENG RUI and TAN YINGZI in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-27 09:15

A photo taken on Aug 24, 2021 shows the main venue of the 2021 Smart China Expo in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality. [Photo/Xinhua]

Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, which boasts a strategic location and industrial edge, is accelerating its economic and trade cooperation with other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for "promoting common prosperity by developing the digital economy".

From Monday to Wednesday, the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Forum on the Digital Economy, held in Chongqing, focused on the theme.

Founded in June 2001, the SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization for political, economic and security cooperation. It comprises eight member states, including China, four observer states, and six dialogue partners, with which Chongqing has forged close relations in recent years.

Chongqing was chosen as the forum venue because of its pivot-like role in the China Western Development Strategy. The Belt and Road Initiative's projects and transport routes intersect with the Yangtze River Economic Belt in the city.

"Chongqing is a unique link that connects entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region, China's inland provinces and Eurasian countries. It serves as a bridge in cooperation in electronics, transportation logistics, information technology and tourism for the SCO and ASEAN countries," said SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov at a sub-forum via a video link.

He also noted that among the 19 city groups in China, the Chengdu-Chongqing city group is not only the gateway for China to the West, but is also one of the strongest economic engines and BRI corridors.

Cai Yunge, deputy mayor of Chongqing, said, "The biggest advantage lies in the close cooperation between Chongqing and the SCO countries."

So far, some 40 companies from the SCO footprint established a presence in Chongqing, and more than 30 Chongqing-based companies expanded their operations, or exported their products, services or technologies to SCO countries, entailing a total investment of $675 million.

For instance, in the first half of this year, Chang'an Auto exported more than 63,000 vehicles in all, with over 10,000 of them reaching SCO-related markets such as Pakistan and Russia, up 143 percent year-on-year.

On July 19, Saic-Iveco Hongyan, a heavy duty truck manufacturer based in Chongqing, delivered 500 C6 LNG tractors to Russia, marking its entry into the Russian market.

"With the substantial acceleration of infrastructure construction, SCO markets have become the key goals in our overseas planning," said Xiong Zhu, director of the international business department of Saic-Iveco Hongyan, adding the company is also expanding to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and is expected to complete the delivery of the first batch of orders this year.

Way back in 2011, Chongqing opened the first China-Europe freight train route, the Yuxinou (Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe) railway that runs through many of the SCO markets.

At the end of 2020, Chongqing had established and developed friendly and cooperative relations with 30 regions of SCO markets. More than 1,000 international students from SCO markets pursued education in Chongqing by way of exchange visits, which led to travel more than 100,000 trips.

In 2020, the total import and export volume between Chongqing and SCO markets reached 50.9 billion yuan ($7.86 billion), up 15 percent year-on-year.

The city's booming digital economy, which accounts for a quarter of the local economy and boasts 6,000 firms in Liangjiang New Area, persuaded the SCO to hold this year's forum in Chongqing. In the first half of last year, digital industries achieved an added value of 33.6 billion yuan, up 55 percent year-on-year.

The SCO TEMP, an existing platform for cooperation in education and industry between Chongqing and SCO markets, will help the city to accelerate the construction of an international exchange center for the central-western region of China, which will further enhance the international visibility and reputation of the city.

CDIndustry, established in Liangjiang New Area in 2016, promoted the first cross-border industrial big data platform under the BRI framework. It not only assists the Chinese manufacturing enterprises to match their industrial needs in BRI economies effectively and accurately, but also facilitates exports of Chinese digital products and services.

In traditional sectors, CDI has established cooperation with more than 70 enterprises in more than 10 SCO countries, such as Hindustan Zinc Ltd and ESL Steel Ltd in India, and Lucky Cement Ltd and ZAS Agencies in Pakistan.

"By maintaining in-depth cooperation with the SCO TEMP and with the help of its business activities and promotion channels, it's easier for our business to be understood and acknowledged by the SCO clients," said Yu Yao, chairman of CDI.

Kuanysh Amantai, representative of Kazakh Invest in China, who took part in the forum, said the agency will set up shop in Chongqing to promote investment cooperation between foreign and Kazakh companies.

"We hope to realize communication as well as possible cooperation with Chongqing's top enterprises from different industrial levels. Moreover, the trust between enterprises in Chongqing and Kazakhstan is sincere in developing and promoting mutual cooperation."

At a sub-forum on Monday, Hu Kaiqiang, director general of the SCO TEMP, said the platform will continue to innovate international economic and trade cooperation, adopt new concepts in the digital industry and create an international ecosystem in Liangjiang New Area.

Duan Chenggang, director of the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area Administrative Committee, proposed a higher-level cooperation for scientific and technological innovation, strengthening the digital economy and trade expansion.

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