欧中发展研究中心（ECCRD）访问河南省委外办 （摄影：潘静彪） Liang Jieyi (right) meets with Zhao Wenchao (Photo by Pan Jingbiao)
Zhao Wenchao, Researcher and Executive Chairman of the Euro-Chinese Centre for Research and Development (ECCRD), an EU think tank, and his delegation paid a visit to Mr. Liang Jieyi, Director of Foreign Affairs Office of Henan Provincial Party Committee and President of the Provincial Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, on February 14. Liang Jieyi met with visiting guests at the Foreign Affairs Office of the Provincial Party Committee, CPC.
Liang Jieyi briefed the guests on the collaboration between Henan Province and Greece and other European countries in recent years. He said that relying on the prominent advantages in region, culture and manufacturing, Henan had actively facilitated the coordinated development of “Four Silk Roads”, and the potential for cooperation with European countries including Greece would be increasingly greater. Among them, Central Plains cultures such as two kinds of boxing (Shadowboxing and Shaolin Boxing), traditional Chinese medicine and 24 solar terms originating in Henan were of great significance for the West to understand traditional Chinese values. Hopefully, the ECCRD can take advantage of the platform, combine with the comparative study between the Yellow River civilization and Greek civilization, base itself on the cultural differences between China and the West, and seek common points while reserving differences in the mutual learning of civilizations to achieve win-win cooperation.
Zhao Wenchao appreciated the concern and support of the Foreign Affairs Office of Henan Provincial Committee to ECCRD, and exchanged opinions with Director Liang on the building of an international distribution center the International Distribution Center (IDC) of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line in Henan Province. Liang Jieyi presented pertinent and constructive suggestions and expectations in respect to the settle-down of this project in Henan.
Since the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, leaders of Greece and China have given voice on the construction of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line for many times.
图为2019年11月11日， 习近平和夫人彭丽媛在希腊总理米佐塔基斯夫妇陪同下参观中远海运比雷埃夫斯港项目。 （图片转自新华网 新华社记者 谢环驰摄） The picture shows Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan visiting COSCO’s Port of Piraeus Project accompanied by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece and his wife on November 11, 2019. (Photo by Li Xueren, a reporter of Xinhua news agency)
In 2019, when Xi Jinping, the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China visited Port of Piraeus, he pointed out that, “I believe that the prospect of the Port of Piraeus is beyond measure” and emphasized on building the International Distribution Center (IDC) of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line favorably. This new route, which had been placed high hopes by the leaders of China and Greece, was the shortest shipping route between China and Europe, and even between Asia and Europe, saving 7 to 11 days compared to the traditional route.
As manifested by relevant data, under the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the freight volume of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line bucked the trend and grew by 43% compared with previous years. In 2021, the freight volume of this center increased by 25% year-on-year. Alexander Westra, an associate researcher of ECCRD, said that, “The new trade channel has stimulated the change of European logistics supply chains. The building of an IDC of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line in Henan is of great significance for the central region of China. Once the project settles down, it is expected to contribute to a trade volume of tens of billions of euros between Henan and Europe annually.”
The main research areas of this think tank are “to boost the sustainable development, civilization dialogue and economic partnership between Europe and China”. It has worked with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries（CPAFFC）, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and local governments, and held many seminars and large trade fairs, etc. in Europe and China respectively. It is also this think tank that masterminded the World Forum on Ancient Civilizations. In 2017, the think tank embarked on the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line project. In 2018, Zhang Qiyue, the then Chinese Ambassador to Greece, met with Amalia Matiatou, the Chairmen of the ECCRD, and Zhao Wenchao, on the theme of this project. Many Greek ministers, the think tank of the Prime Minister of Greece and the Greek Ambassador to China also met with Zhao Wenchao on the project in succession.
Greece, the world’s largest maritime power, is not only a double-fulcrum country of along the “Belt and Road”, but also a double-starting point country of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line in Europe. As a bridgehead connecting Europe, Asia and Africa, the Sino-Greece Port of Piraeus project has set an example for the international cooperation of the “the Belt and Road Initiative”. The China-Europe Land-Sea Express is the very re-expansion and continuation of the joint project of Port of Piraeus.
Zhao Wenchao told the reporters, “There is infinite potential for China-EU economic cooperation. And we are confident that with the vigorous support of the Foreign Affairs Office of Henan Provincial Party Committee, the project will become a new example of international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.”
Located in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, Henan has a splendid history just like the Aegean civilization, which bred Greece and even the western civilization. It is the main cradle of Chinese civilization. This province, with a total area of 170,000 square kilometers and a population of 1,150 million, is the most populous province in China, and has an enormous market potential. In 2021, the total import and export value of this province exceeded 800 billion yuan for the first time, hitting a new record high of 820.81 billion yuan, up 22.9% over the previous year, and would continue to grow in 2022.
This province’s ambition to open up has spurred new development. Some scholars point out that Henan is located in the central part of China and landlocked. Since 2021, the new development strategies of this province to open up, such as “building a highland”, and turning county economy “into a plateau” have begun to take effect, but the framework that the field of foreign trade monopolizes needs to be changed. For example, Foxconn’s property in Henan alone accounts for about 60% of the import and export value of this province, indicating that a diversified foreign trade pattern is yet to be formed. In particular, the county economy of this province has a strong demand for foreign trade, but a steering platform is still absent. The IDC project can fill this gap. If this project settles down in Henan, it can not only serve the whole province, but also radiate to northern Jiangsu, northern Anhui and southwest Shandong in China.
The project falls under the category of trade services. Informatization, platformization and one-stop transaction are its main features. The basic service process is: to build a platform, provide supply and demand information, promote trade negotiation and contracting, land and sea waybills and insurance policies, settlement by letter of credit, bonded warehouse/overseas warehouse, and customs clearance.
左起侯卫东、Alexander Westra、赵文超、梁杰一、屈鹏飞、张艳莉（摄影：潘静彪） Hou Weidong, Alexander Westra, Zhao Wenchao, Liang Jieyi, Qu Pengfei and Zhang Yanli from left (Photo by Pan Jingbiao)
Qu Pengfei, Level-1 Inspector of the Foreign Affairs Office of Henan Provincial Party Committee, Zhang Yanli, Secretary-General of Henan Friendship Association, Alexander, the associate researcher of ECCRD, and Hou Weidong, representative of He’nan University, were present at the meeting.
Both sides also consult over the establishment of a think tank partnership between ECCRD and He’nan University and reach preliminary consensus.