Ningbo becomes 'Belt and Road' pilot zone
Ningbo has been selected to become Zhejiang province's first pilot zone for projects connected to China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to a document released by the provincial government on Sept 14.
Meishan New Area in Ningbo will be the main focus of the pilot zone, according to the document, which will be developed into a strategic hub for "Belt and Road" projects.
The document suggested that development work in Meishan will include improvements to the area's logistics industry, investment and trade environment, and financial services industry, as well as enhancing cooperation between industrial and tech companies and raising the number of cultural exchanges the area takes part in.
The decision is likely to bring significant economic benefits to Ningbo, since the Chinese government has pledged to commit hundreds of billions of dollars in investment to the initiative over the next decade.
Zhejiang Online, a news website affiliated to Zhejiang Daily, attributed Ningbo's selection to six advantages the city enjoys.
Firstly, the city's economy is among the strongest in Zhejiang. Its GDP in 2016 reached 854.1 billion yuan ($130.42 billion) and the municipal government's fiscal revenue was 214.6 billion yuan.
Its strength is further enhanced by its location inside the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone, a region accounting for 20 percent of China's GDP that the Chinese government is developing into one large megalopolis.
Ningbo's cross-border e-commerce industry is also one of the largest among Chinese cities, which will be particularly useful in supporting "Belt and Road" projects.
Secondly, Ningbo is one of China's most important ports. It is home of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, the world's busiest port which handles over 900 million tons in throughput.
With access to the busy shipping channels of the Pacific Ocean, on the one hand, and the huge market of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Zone, on the other, Ningbo-Zhoushan Port is in an enviable strategic location. It is connected to more than 100 countries and regions via 236 international shipping routes.
Thirdly, Ningbo was for centuries one of China's main gateways to the Maritime Silk Road and the city has a long history of openness and connectedness. Now, it has established friendly relations with over 40 international cities, which contributes to the city's increasing export and import volume.
Fourthly, Ningbo's business environment is attractive to international businesspeople. Its ten national development zones, efficient administration, well-developed commercial environment, superb infrastructure and government services and other advantages give the city an open, mature and inclusive environment for running a business.
Fifthly, the private sector in Ningbo is well developed, which will be important as private companies will be a major force driving forward the Belt and Road Initiative. Local entrepreneurs in Ningbo are renowned for their ability to innovate and for their work ethic.
Finally, Ningbo's profound culture will help it promote international exchanges with "Belt and Road" countries. The city's large overseas community can help promote the city's culture to the world, which the Chinese government believes could be an important factor in making the Belt and Road Initiative a success.