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The first China-Europe freight train in Shenzhen is about to depart from the city for Minsk, Belarus on Monday. XUAN HUI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Goods worth up to $8m on route to Minsk as part of B&R Initiative

BEIJING - China’s southern city of Shenzhen launched its first Europe-bound freight train on Monday.

It became the 29th Chinese city to introduce rail service to Europe with the train loaded with goods worth $8 million.

Products included high-tech electronics while the containers will arrive in Minsk, capital of Belarus, in 13 days.

The Shenzhen-Minsk freight train has turned the coastal city, a high-tech hub in the Pearl River Delta, into a bridge for the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Goods such as rice and fruit from ASEAN countries like Vietnam and Laos can first be transported to Shenzhen by sea and then to Russia and Belarus by freight train,” said Li Wenhai, deputy director of the Guangzhou cargo transport center under Guangzhou Railway Corporation.

On May 19, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region launched its first freight train with cargo bound for India. The train set off from the regional capital, Urumqi, and will deliver goods to Lianyungang in East China’s Jiangsu province, where they will be shipped to India.

On May 14 to 15, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing.

Leaders there pledged to build an open economy, ensure free trade and support the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance connectivity.

At the forum, China vowed to provide massive financial support for Belt and Road construction and take new measures to strengthen cooperation with countries taking part in the initiative.

The cooperation momentum is continuously growing.

The China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone will set up a service center to help companies break technical obstacles to trade with Belt and Road countries and regions, FTZ authorities said on Monday.

The service center will help Chinese companies learn more about markets along the Belt and Road and set up a new cooperative model of connectivity, according to the Shanghai FTZ administration.

The first crude oil shipment from Myanmar reached China via the China-Myanmar crude oil pipeline, China National Petroleum Corporation announced on May 19.

The 1,420-kilometer-long cross-border pipeline is part of the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project.

Strengthening financial connectivity is an important aspect of Belt and Road development.

Strengthening financial connectivity is an important aspect of Belt and Road development.

China Construction Bank’s branch in Warsaw, opened on Monday. It is the fifth branch of the Chinese bank in Europe.

The initiative was launched in December 2015 by SWIFT, a global member-owned cooperative that provides financial messaging services.

Since then, nearly 110 banks operating across more than 200 countries and regions, including almost all Belt and Road countries and regions, have joined the initiative.

Belt and Road countries have huge potential for development.

Chinese companies have been making robust investments abroad in sectors such as manufacturing and service industries, said Long Guoqiang, deputy head of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries and regions exceeded $3 trillion between 2014 and 2016. Chinese investment in these countries exceeded $50 billion.