He Weiwen: Yiwu, Madrid run two commemorative cargo trains to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties


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He Weiwen: Yiwu, Madrid run two commemorative cargo trains to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties


Source: GT    Published: 2023-03-09

As Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain, Yiwu city in East China's Zhejiang Province and Madrid ran two commemorative freight trains to celebrate the special day -- testimony to the two-way cooperation between China and the countries along the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

At 5 pm on Thursday, a train carrying 110 standard containers of small commodities, ceramic products, electric scooters and daily necessities departed from Yiwu and headed for Madrid.

At the same time, a train loaded with 70 containers of wine, olive oil, sparkling water, sunflower oil, baby food, daily chemical products and other Spanish specialties left Madrid for Yiwu, according to a statement that the Yiwu publicity authority sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the BRI, and Thursday was the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Spain. The commemorative trains that connect the "world's supermarket" Yiwu and Madrid are an important part of the activities to celebrate the anniversary, witnessing enhanced cooperation between China and the countries along the BRI.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on Thursday that since the establishment of diplomatic relations half a century ago, China and Spain have promoted cooperation and deepened their friendship in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, bringing tangible benefits to the people of both countries.

China is willing to take the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as a new starting point with Spain, consolidate political mutual trust, enhance exchanges, expand practical cooperation, and maintain close coordination in international and regional affairs, and continue to write a new chapter of friendship between China and Spain, Mao noted.

On November 18, 2014, the first Yiwu-Madrid freight train was officially launched. It ran through China into Kazakhstan, and then passed Russia and other European countries, and finally arrived in Madrid, Spain. The train spanned eight countries in Eurasia, with a total length of 13,052 kilometers, breaking the record for the longest rail transport service in the world.

"The China-Europe freight train opened a new route under the BRI, which increased trade between China and Europe while reducing transportation costs and delivery time. This route has been instrumental in promoting trade cooperation between China and Europe," He Weiwen, an executive council member of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The Yiwu local authority told the Global Times that as of the end of 2022, the total number of Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe freight trains had exceeded 6,724, with more than standard containers carried. The route covers 51 countries and regions, with the service network covering Asia and Europe.

The categories of goods shipped to Europe have expanded from small commodities to more than 50,000 kinds of commodities, such as new-energy vehicles, machinery and equipment, furniture and building materials and other materials.

The products shipped from Europe have expanded from daily consumer goods such as wine and milk powder to mechanical and electrical products, medical equipment and high-end cabinets.

The growth of the China-Europe freight trains has effectively promoted the economic and trade exchanges of countries along the route. From 2014 to 2022, Yiwu's imports and exports to Spain rose from $400 million to $870 million, an increase of 118 percent, data showed.

In the first two months of 2023, the EU remained China's second-largest trading partner, with total bilateral trade reaching 851.1 billion yuan ($122.3 billion), down 2.6 percent, Chinese customs data showed.

He noted that stable relations between China and the EU are an important prerequisite for promoting economic and trade cooperation between the two sides. Moving forward, China will further expand cooperation with the EU in the fields like semiconductors, artificial intelligence and the green economy.