The seventh edition of the China-South Asia Expo has emerged as a dynamic platform that transcends geographical borders, facilitating extensive exchange, collaboration, and mutual growth among countries in the region. This monumental event has garnered global attention, attracting more than 30,000 exhibitors, representatives, and guests from 85 countries and regions, both in-person and through virtual participation.
Under the banner of “Solidarity and Coordination for Common Development,” this five-day extravaganza encapsulates the essence of bilateral ties and shared aspirations.
Evolution over a decade: Fortifying China-South Asia relations
The China-South Asia Expo, which made its debut in 2013, has evolved remarkably over the past decade. This evolution is vividly manifested in the exponential growth of trade volume between China and South Asian countries. A testament to this progress is the fact that the trade volume, which stood at less than 100 billion U.S. dollars during the inaugural event, surged to an impressive 197.4 billion U.S. dollars in the previous year. This remarkable expansion has been underpinned by an annual growth rate of 8.3 percent, underscoring the resilience and vitality of these partnerships.
Mohamed Rikas, a Sri Lankan gem dealer, attests to the transformative potential of this platform. He recognized the burgeoning business opportunities at the inaugural expo in 2013 and has since become a consistent participant, capitalizing on China’s vast market and the robust purchasing power of its populace. The convergence of such entrepreneurial minds has fostered lasting friendships, as highlighted by Liu Ruini, who has served as Rikas’ interpreter since 2018. This enduring camaraderie is a testament to the bonds forged at the expo, transcending even the challenges posed by the pandemic.
A nexus of cooperation: Trade, investment and cultural Exchange
The China-South Asia Expo has metamorphosed into a comprehensive platform that synergizes trade, investment, tourism cooperation, and cultural exchange. This harmonious confluence has positioned the expo as a beacon of mutual collaboration and camaraderie among China, South Asian nations, and the broader international community. This transformation has been catalyzed by initiatives like the China-Laos Railway, which commenced cross-border passenger services in April. Attendees from diverse backgrounds have embraced the railway as a bridge connecting nations and envisioning a future of prosperity.
Muhammad Fazle Rabby from Bangladesh, who availed himself of the China-Laos Railway to reach the expo, encapsulates the shared sentiment: “The China-Laos Railway is expected to serve as a bridge to connect China and Laos, and the grand gathering of the China-South Asia Expo will see more fruitful results.” The Mohan entry-exit border, which has facilitated seamless travel for thousands, symbolizes the accessibility and unity cultivated by such initiatives.
Catalyzing regional growth: The Belt and Road Initiative
The inception of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 catalyzed a new era of interconnectivity between China and South Asian nations. This far-reaching initiative has materialized in several tangible ways, such as the establishment of over 10 cargo air routes by the Yunnan airport group. These routes span cities in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, ushering in a new era of economic interdependence.
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China’s investment in South Asia is a testament to the strength of these partnerships. Cumulative investment has surged to nearly 15 billion U.S. dollars, with completed contracted projects contributing over 200 billion U.S. dollars in turnover. This growing investment has generated a robust industrial and supply chain network characterized by its intricate interconnectedness, as noted by Wang Liping from the Ministry of Commerce.
A vision for shared prosperity
The China-South Asia Expo stands as a remarkable testament to the power of collaboration and shared aspirations. Over a decade, it has evolved from a nascent idea into an iconic platform that bridges cultures, economies, and societies. With its emphasis on solidarity and coordination for common development, this expo exemplifies the immense potential that emerges when nations unite to overcome challenges and chart a course towards shared prosperity.