By Ding Gang Source:Global Times Published: 2016-8-24
Looking far into the mountain along the China-Vietnam border, the slogan of "One Belt and One Road, All-win and Common Prosperity" was hung on the mountainside facing China. We were in Pingxiang City, South China`s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and China`s largest overland border-checkpoint city. The other side of the mountain is Vietnam.
When we walked into the newly built Border Trade Logistics Center, pictures of the grand Gate Tower of Youyi Guan, a pass between Guangxi and Vietnam, were being aired on the screen in the hall. The trade center provides one-stop services including customs and inspection, which greatly improves clearance efficiency.
The South China Sea dispute seems remote here. The container trucks passing bumper to bumper indicate another facet of the Sino-Vietnamese relations. Puzhai, a border crossing in Pingxiang, handles as many as 800 trucks moving trade goods every day during the peak season. Counting other vehicles, the figure amounts to no less than 1,200 a day. It has become the key trading port of China with Vietnam and ASEAN.
Pingxiang holds a unique position. It is 180 kilometers southward from Nanning City, and 180 kilometers northward from Hanoi, Vietnam. So far there has been an expressway connecting Pingxiang to Nanning. The section within Vietnam is expected to open to traffic next year.
The city also sees more fruits coming in than any other Chinese port. The total import of fruits last year stood at 1.41 million tons, making up over one-fifth of China`s total fruit imports.
Sun Ruijun, the young mayor of Pingxiang, told us that the completion of the land border demarcation between China and Vietnam has provided a foundation for the city`s stable development of economic and trade cooperation with Vietnam.
Currently, Pingxiang is working with the Vietnamese side on a cross-border industrial zone so as to introduce more investment and create more jobs for Vietnamese.
Booming trade and economic exchanges, as shown in Pingxiang, are the dominant part of the relations between China and Vietnam and other ASEAN countries, which have led to vigorous development of mutual effort.
The vitality and vigor of trade and business keeps upsetting Washington`s maneuver in the South China Sea disputes. But the US moves to mess up the situation will be finally dismantled by the good momentum for common development between China and ASEAN. We must propel such momentum while preparing to strongly strike back any US provocations. It will be helpful in alleviating tensions created by the US.
In the wake of the South China Sea arbitration, hype is running high among some Western media and scholars that the case will jeopardize China-ASEAN trade ties. But the trade situation in Pingxiang shows a different picture.
Its trade volume has increased by 25-30 percent annually over the past 10 years.
In 2015, Pingxiang surpassed northern China`s Manzhouli and became the country`s inland port with the largest trade volume. The growth rate doesn`t slow down based on the situation of the first half of this year.
Sun told me that she would go to Youyi Guan Wednesday to receive a delegation from Vietnam`s Lang Son Province, the purpose of which is to make arrangements for high-ranking Vietnamese officials to attend the China-ASEAN Expo that will convene in Nanning in late September.
Despite squabbling, China and Vietnam are neighbors. Both countries prioritize development in their policies and the two economies are also highly complementary. Neither wants to impair the core interests by squabbling.
Through my short stay in Pingxiang, I felt that the China-Vietnam border trade development will greatly drive the economic integration of the two countries in all fields such as manufacturing, railways, roads and logistics. China and Vietnam will form complete chains of production, logistics and distribution that will expand to the whole of Southeast Asia.
Such development will lay the foundation for building a new Asian order and create conditions for great possibilities of Chinese diplomacy.
The author is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.