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Shandong set to play bigger role in BRI with new ports group

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong | ( China Daily ) | 2019-08-08

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Containers carrying goods for export are seen in Qingdao Port, East China's Shandong province, on Oct 19, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Shandong province will play a bigger role in the Belt and Road Initiative with the help of the newly consolidated Shandong Province Port Group, which will expand its operations into the country's inland areas, industry officials and insiders said.

Launched on Tuesday in Qingdao, the company has integrated the major ports in the province, including Qingdao Port, Yantai Port, Rizhao Port and the Bohai Bay Port Group.

"By integrating port facilities and services, the coastal ports in Shandong province will enhance connections with more 'waterless ports' in inland provinces along the Silk Road Economic Belt," said Huo Gaoyuan, the new group's first chairman, adding that the new group will provide services for hinterland areas involved in the Eurasian Continental Bridge.

Official statistics showed the cargo throughput at all coastal ports in Shandong province in 2018 amounted to 1.6 billion metric tons, ranking second in the country. With a cargo handling capacity exceeding 500 million tons last year, Qingdao Port was ranked among the Top 10 ports in China.

Yantai Port and Rizhao Port, whose cargo handling capacity is over 400 million tons, also rank among the Top 10 ports in the country.

Huo hoped the group would bolster the province's opening-up and become a world-class port conglomerate.

The move of port resource integration was made by the Shandong provincial Party committee and the provincial government to maximize port resources and eliminate regional competition.

Launched in March 2018, the Bohai Bay Port Group, which now is in charge of Binzhou Port, Dongying Port and Weifang Port, was the first step toward port integration in Shandong province.

In early July, Qingdao Port announced a merger with neighboring Weihai Port. At the end of last month, the new port's leadership was announced and began working.

Huo said the four ports in the new group will give full play to their distinct advantages and potential. In addition, Qingdao Port is also seeking opportunities brought by the demonstration area for economic and trade cooperation between China and members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The demonstration area is expected to add momentum to cooperation between China and SCO economies. It has a multimodal transportation center connected to countries and regions involved in the BRI, with 10 domestic and eight international freight train services.

"The multimodal transportation center is directly linked with Qingdao Port by a railway line, which enables the port to better serve as a transportation hub connecting Japan, South Korea and SCO-related economies," said Jia Cunyu, a senior official of the demonstration area.

Port asset integration at the provincial level has become a trend in China, with provinces including Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Liaoning establishing unified port groups or corporations in the past few years.

China saw an overall growth in cargo throughput at ports in the first half of 2019, said official data released on July 28 and reported by Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese cargo throughput at ports reached about 6.7 billion tons in the first six months, up by 4.5 percent compared with the same period of 2018, said a report released on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission.